Health boards, health professionals, police, family groups, addiction experts, the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser in 2011, leading scientists, and the general public – including young people – have all been shouting to politicians to raise the drinking age to 20 in order to protect young people and to save lives.
As argued in our 2011 report on this issue, alcohol policies and decisions about a legal drinking age should be firmly based on the health and well-being of New Zealand’s young people. New medical evidence on accident probability, disease and brain development, research on suicide and homicide, along with the Child and Youth Mortality Review make it absolutely clear that delaying the age at which teenagers and young people have easy access to alcohol would reduce the level of damage they and society suffer at the moment as well as contributing to their future health and well-being.
We need to send an unambiguous message to young people and society about what is good for young people, and raising both the drinking and purchase age would make it easier for parents and the community to work together to prevent harm to our young people.
A nationwide poll by Curia Market Research, commissioned by Family First NZ in 2013, asked respondents “Do you think Parliament should have raised the drinking age to 20 or kept it at 18?” 62% of respondents said Parliament should have voted to raise the drinking age to 20. Only 32% agreed with the politicians that it should remain at 18, and 7% were unsure or refused to say.
A 2011 report “YOUNG PEOPLE AND ALCOHOL: What Does the Medical Evidence Tell Us About the Legal Drinking Age in New Zealand?” commissioned by Family First examined the medical evidence and argued that the drinking age should be raised to 21.