Call for Drinking Age to Be Raised to 20

An opposition Member of Parliament on Wednesday recommended that government seriously considers raising the legal drinking age to 20 to protect the health of schoolchildren, who at 18 are normally still in their final years of secondary school.

There has been calls in the past from members of the public that legislators push up the drinking age because they feel 18 is still too young for someone to be legally permitted to buy alcohol.

“Our 18-year-olds are legally entitled to consume alcohol yet they are still in school. These are people who are supposed to be in school yet they are already legally permitted to consume alcohol. This is a problem because if you have schoolchildren who are permitted to drink it will have a negative effect on their schoolwork,” said Rally for Democracy and Progress MP, Heiko Lucks.

Lucks also warned that those who start consuming alcohol at a young age are more prone to become alcoholics.

Alcohol abuse in Namibia has reached epidemic proportions and calls for drastic action, said Lucks.

“I think the time has really come for us to at least to increase the drinking age to 20,” recommended Lucks.

“The younger the person the bigger the chance of that person becoming addicted to alcohol and this also affects their schoolwork,” he said.

While making the recommendation, Deputy Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare Angelika Muharukua, stood up and said: “I do not understand why you are complaining because you are the owners of the bottle stores in Namibia which were created by your families, starting from your great grandparents and now you are complaining because we have these things [bottle stores].”

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social and Community Development called for more rehabilitation centres for people having drinking problems when it tabled its report on alcohol abuse in April.

“There is enough evidence that the level of alcohol consumption in Namibia is high. Alcohol is a social problem, which negatively impacts not only the individuals concerned and their families, but the society as a whole,” the report says.

The report therefore recommended t”there is a need to establish more rehabilitation centres and social workers to assist the victims of alcohol abuse”.

The report also exposed how pensioners use their pension money to purchase alcohol.

Effective monitoring of liquor outlets is virtually non-existent and the report stated that in 2012 only 540 of the 1 540 shebeens in Windhoek were trading legally

Based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2011 Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, Namibia is ranked fifth on the African continent in terms of annual alcohol consumption with the average Namibian consuming 9,62 litres of alcohol per year

Source : New Era