South Africa to Increase the legal drinking age from 18 to 21

The government wants to crack down on alcohol abuse by raising the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 and making distributors legally liable if they deal irresponsibly.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies introduced the National Liquor Amendment Bill of 2016 at a media conference today.

Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies. PHOTO: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

The bill was approved by Cabinet for wider public consultation last week.

The bill proposes that the age at which alcohol may be bought and consumed be raised from 18 to 21.

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“We’re not putting it forward as a dogmatic certainty,” said Davies.

In countries where the legal drinking age had been raised, the number of accidents involving young people decrease. The opposite happened in countries where the drinking age was raised, for example in New Zealand, where it came down from 20 to 18.

There was a physiological argument behind the proposal: studies indicate that people’s brains continued developing until their mid-20s, therefore alcohol’s effect on brain development was worse among younger people.

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