Mum, can we go to the pub?

So say I’m 19 and my, like, favourite indy band ever is coming to New Zealand to play at the King’s Arms. I own every CD AND the limited edition live album, plus several t-shirts and posters. I’m SO there, right?

Wrong – unless I can convince my mum to come with me.

If Labour MP Martyn Gallagher’s private members bill is passed as recommended by the Law and Order Select Committee today, this scenario is going to become horribly common, as 18 and 19 year olds will be prevented from drinking on licensed premises unless accompanied by their “former guardian” or legal spouse over the age of 20. Note the use of “former” – they can’t be accommpanied by their legal guardians, since they are too old to have one now.

The exception to the rule is 18 and 19 year old bar staff, who will be allowed to watch the gig for free while pouring drinks that they themselves aren’t legally allowed to purchase. Oh, and 18 and 19 year olds IN the band will be allowed to play.

These bizarre exceptions highlight just how ridiculous this law would be if passed, and show the punitive nature of the proposed law change. Why should 18 and 19 year olds be punished for New Zealand’s unhealthy booze culture? Evidence suggests that the problems of alcohol-related harms are by no means restricted to youth drinkers – binge-drinking is considered socially acceptable in just about all spheres of New Zealand society (including, I might add, among many MPs) – and there’s also no conclusive evidence that the upward trend in alcohol-related harms for youth wasn’t well established before the drinking age was lowered in 1999.

Raising the legal age of purchase isn’t going to address our problems with alcohol – policy measures like education and restrictions on advertising are. Unfortunately the restrictions on broadcast alcohol advertising that are part of the package of proposed changes will achieve very little, as they assume that young people don’t watch TV after 10pm which is obviously not true, and don’t apply to radio. The Greens actually have a private members bill to ban ALL broadcast alcohol advertising which was pulled from the ballot recently, which would be of much more use.

For some background reading on this issue, you can see the select committee report on the bill to raise the purchase age here, and on the advertising restriction positions here. Metiria’s press release on the issue is here, and covers the report here.

41 Comments Posted

  1. “artyone” is right. The main reason NZ has a problem with drinking (not to mention smoking and drugs) is that too many people lack self respect. This stems from a lack of social justice, an education system that fails too many kids, inter-generational deprivation, etc, etc.

    In many continental European countries they have much less of a substance abuse problem – why? Because they have ensured that the benefits of their prosperity are shared around society to a much greater degree.

    The way to solve substance abuse problems is to create a better overall society, not take people’s freedom away. It’s not a quick fix, but it’s the only real one.

    I really think the Green’s should run with this. Maybe leaflet schools & colleges in areas where the MP is wavering or pro-reduction. Target 16-19 year olds – who will all be voters at the next election – with a postcard they can send to their MP saying – you vote against my right to drink at 18 and I won’t vote for you in ’08!

  2. Alcohol advertising content restrictions anyone?

    1. No person in any ad under the apparent age of 30.

    2. No car in any ad capable of more than 180KPH.

    3. No “supermodels”

    I am not sure if any others would be useful, but limiting the reach of the advertisers in this regard coupled with a couple of effective ads that show the downside of a young kid becoming “paralytic”

    It has to shock to be effective. It has to offend them. It has to bludgeon them with the imagery and the message that serious consequences follow on from making yourself stupid.

    Teen waking up in a strange bed with an even stranger guy…. or gal… Stumbling drunk trying to rescue a little kid from the back of a wreck, only to find that the child is dead. Graphic brutality to smack their egos back into line.. and then we get to the Maori culture. They need a different approach, but are susceptible to social pressure from their peers even so.

    But banning adult children from drinking is not the answer. This is under their control. They have to be persuaded to exercise that control.


  3. Liberty – This is a vexed issue. Nor are we all in agreement that it is a good idea. People who drink themselves into a stupor do not behave rationally. That necessary assumption so supportive of liberal AND libertarian freedoms is no longer applicable. Having gotten drunk they WILL drive. However, to ban the kids from drinking is about as effective as waving a feather-duster at 20 paces, when the society they are a part of so strongly approves of the practice.

    They think it is funny to see people p*55ed. They think it is entertaining to be paralyzed.

    To change this requires social changes that no law will deliver, and that I think is the strongest argument against this particular effort. Using advertising to reduce the “entertainment value” accorded to this particular form of self-abuse is, as far as I know, of limited effectiveness… but almost certainly better than passing a law.

    Right now those adds are aimed at 50 year old dads… so I can be sure they aren’t getting to the kids at all. I suspect that nobody wants to run ads that would offend the youth market or would really touch that sense of immortal invulnerability that they possess.

    But that’s what it’ll take.

    A community wide full-court press… and you can’t get to the hard-core druggies until you get the cheerleaders and the jocks to turn away from them. Whittle around the edges and push them into a corner where they feel the disapproval of their peers.

    Whether this society (or any) is capable of organizing to do this I am not sure. I heard that they managed to turn things around in Norway by doing something like this. We are not so homogeneous a country.


  4. libertyscott:

    The major difference between us is that while you concentrate upon individual “rights”, Greens have a more cooperative approach and think about individual and collective “responsibilities”.

    However, I say this, remembering political discussions in my own family:
    I have cousins (out of the same “stable” … my mother and her sister) and it is interesting that on my side of the family we thought “Left” and on theirs they thought “Right” but when it came to any particular situation (except possibly, money in the theoretical sense) our responses were very very similar!

    Your interpretation of what others think about alcohol and drugs is your own.

    We also have different understanding of a “schoolteacher’s” role.

    My family has had (generations of) successful teachers who were esteemed by their students. A good teacher knows his/her students abilities, leads by example and motivates students to take responsibility for their own learning …

    Also I have a brother who worked as a Specialist in Emergency Medicine trying to keep alive the victims of your “individual responsibility” on the roads. (“Punishing” the creators of that carnage somehow doesn’t undo the damage done to the lives of others! )

  5. Eredwen, please don’t put up straw men, you should know very well that the right to do as you wish with your own body is only limited by protecting others to have the same right. Drink driving is covered by the road owner (the state) setting rules for using the road (road code) and enforcing them to protect the other users. There is no reason why employers, bar owners, private citizens shouldn’t set their own rules on alcohol for their own property – in fact, it is perfectly sensible.

    It IS simple. What right does the state have to dictate to adults what they can and cannot ingest into their own bodies? The “big picture” is saying that some adults have the right to tell others what they can do – I personally find it offensive that a bureaucrat, politician, cop or you think you know what I should put into my body. It is not your business unless I assault, threaten to assault or damage anyone else or their property – funnily enough many drunk people don’t harm anyone.

    This is also matched by ensuring that you DO punish those that infringe on the same right in others and that private property owners can also apply those rules. Pubs should be able to set their own rules about what ages they allow in above 18, but the damned Human Rights Act would say it is “discrimination”. On the one hand the left wants to oppose discrimination, but jumps in boots and all when it fits into its “schoolteacher’s” approach of not just telling everyone but forcing everyone as to what is best for them. This is one example, another is on illegal drugs, another is on gambling.

    The fundamental notion is that those supporting this bill do not think 18 and 19yos should be considered adults. It deems them ALL to be too incompetent to handle drinking alcohol, so they need parenting. This is a conservative point of view and demonstrates how many on the left are quite illiberal and as authoritarian as those on the right.

  6. libertyscott:

    The “schoolteacher’s approach” looks at all possible outcomes of a situation, and how these outcomes might affect/impact upon the person concerned and any others.

    Unfortunately “pressing charges” or “suing the person concerned” doesn’t really fill the bill when someone is killed or maimed by an impaired “adult” behind the wheel (who you say “shouldn’t be told what to do with their own bodies”).

    The issue is not simple. However, we do need to “look at the big picture” before deciding on idealistic solutions from any particular point of view.

    One good place to see a part of the big picture is to hang around “Accident and Emergency” on a Saturday night!

  7. the biggest problem i see with alcohol advertising is that it seems to have the greatest impact on people under 20. when i was a kid, the only alcohol ads were in print media, billboards and at the cinema. we thought the beer ads at the pictures were a great laugh. but we only saw them a few times a year, so there was little chance for repetitious brainwashing of young, impressionable minds, IMHO.

    but back to the original topic, i think Russell Brown’s idea for 20yrs off-license and 18yrs on-license is excellent and workable. anyone else care to comment?

  8. Ross. You claim to be adopting an evidence based approached – it is, in fact the school teacher’s approach, acting in loco parentis of adults who need to simply accept the consequences of their own actions. It is totally unjust to punish adults and the properties they frequent because some of them drink to excess in ways that harm themselves. You may as well ban children from playing on the side of the road because a few get killed.

    If advertising does increase consumption then, frankly, why is it anyone else’s business unless you are being hurt, in which case you should press charges or sue the person concerned. Jim Anderton’s “sherry tax” is hugely successful by what measure? In reducing the ability of spirit drinkers to spend their own money on anything else they may wish?

    I understand you want people to stop getting drunk. You have no more right to tell adults what to do with their own bodies than I have to tell you. It is one thing to warn young adults of the dangers of drinking to excess, it is another to say – regardless of those who behave well, we’ll stop you all. Sledgehammer to crack a nut and it is totally unfair to treat adults this way.

  9. Actually, the drinking culture at Parliament has subsided markedly since the days of Rob Muldoon, Colin McLachlan and Keith Allen, who were pissed most of the time when they were Ministers.

    Remember the Keith Allen affair – the Minister of Transport who was found passed out while attempting to walk home, and claimed he had been attacked. It was jocularly reported (I think by Tom Scott) that his attackers had been identified as Jack Daniels, Johnnie Walker and Jim Beam. He was later filmed by TVNZ drunkenly staggering around the grounds of Parliament after another late night session.

    Okay, so Mark Peck and Ruth Dyson blotted their copybooks in more recent years, but you’ll see a lot less pissed MPs today than was the case 25 years ago.

  10. If politicians want to do something about alcohol abuse, how about closing down the bar at Bellamy’s and making parliament an alcohol-free zone? It would set a good example, and running the country and drinking alcohol really don’t go together. If adult culture wasn’t so alcohol-saturated I doubt that teenage cultures would be.

  11. toad wrote:
    “What it is likely to do is increase the use of more dangerous drugs – “Hey, couldn’t score any piss tonight, but I’ve got a mate who’s got some P. Wanna get wasted?? ”

    um, this is just a roundabout way of saying that (selective) prohibition for adults is counterproductive, and has the potential to massively harm minors and provide huge profits to criminal enterprises (including the CIA, but i digress…)

  12. The research cited by Ross Bell of the NZ Drugs Foundation as “evidence” on the drinking age needs to be looked at carefully.

    There is a temptation to attribute a causative link to events that have a temporal coincidence. Presumably, the evidence Ross Bell is referring to is Kypri K, Voas RB, Langley JD, et al. The minimum purchase age for alcohol and traffic crash
    injuries among 15-19 year-olds in New Zealand.
    Am J Public Health. 2006;96:126–31, and Dr Langley’s submission based on that research to the Law and Order Select Committee.

    That research shows a clear temporal correlation between the lowering of the drinking age and a significant increase in the number of alcohol-related road crashes among 15-19 year olds. A temporal correlation, yes, but that is then wrongly interpreted as the lowering of the drinking age being causative of the increase in alcohol-related road crashes.

    Any number of factors could be casuative of more the increase in 15-19 year olds crashing their vehicles under theinfluence of alcohol. One that springs to mind is that the rate of participation in the labour force of people in this age-group increased significantly – the period studied coincided with a significant drop in youth unemployment. What’s more, the period also coincided with a significant increase in the minimum wage for those aged 16-19. So more young people would have had the money to be able to afford to both purchase alcohol and to operate a motor vehicle. These could all be causative factors – the research doesn’t determine to what extent, if any, the lowering of the drinking age is a causative factor among them.

    And in case people hadn’t noticed, driving with excess breath alcohol is illegal anyway, so making purchase of alcohol illegal for 18-19 year olds isn’t going to deter those who already break the law by drinking and driving anyway from doing so.

    What it is likely to do is increase the use of more dangerous drugs – “Hey, couldn’t score any piss tonight, but I’ve got a mate who’s got some P. Wanna get wasted?”

  13. Yes, we English have been trying some pretty stupid things with alcohol recently:

    Still, there seems to be a general impression in this forum that there’s no middle ground between having “a” drink and “getting paralytic”, with the implication that anything above the driving limit is “binge drinking”. I know plenty of people who enjoy more than a couple of drinks, and enjoy being a bit sloshed on occasion, but never get into the problematic behaviour (vomiting, blackouts, drink-driving, aggressiveness, karaoke) that I’d associate with a “binge”.

    The implication that anyone who gets drunk is a “problem drinker”, even if they don’t harm anyone else or make idiots of themselves, is likely to be counterproductive because it make efforts to curb the worst excesses of drinking sound like thin-lipped wowserism.

  14. davek: great stuff!

    A considerable number of 41+ year olds that I have observed are not ready to go into a licenced premesis unaccompanied by a minder (such as a teenage daughter).

  15. “Most of the social mores of 20th century NZ society derived from the male-dominated farming sector of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so it’s probably about time that we acknowledged our society is stuck in a time warp when it comes to alcohol.”

    In that case, why is contemporary urban Britain, in which most people have zero farming connection, such a boozed hell-hole? The British drinking problem is well documented and is one of the largest social problems in the country.

    Having said that, the British drink to have an excuse – “Terribly sorry, I was pissed, forgot my place in the social hierarchy there”

  16. Well, this one’s taken the lid off, hasn’t it?

    For those whose memories have diminished;
    (or are too young to remember…)

    yes, in the 80’s it was very possible to drink underage in NZ.
    Most of us experienced our boyfriends buying a drink or two, while we stood shakily by the bar in our highest heels, tottering feebly to the nearest table and trying to look as grown up as those around us. I’m well informed that my mother’s generation did the exact same thing in the sixities, and lo and behold, the latest generation of stilletto-wearing young ladies has had me guessing-the-ages in Indigo/SFBH bar lately.

    There will always be bands in bars, there will always be kids trying to get in to see them. Perhaps gigs with under-18 sections should be more popular; perhaps bars could accept the premise that they might sell more coke and lemonade some nights.
    VUW Uni Orientation gigs, which I’ve had a little to do with this year as a sexual health officer (voluntary), have a system where ID’s are sighted as patrons come in, over-18’s get a wristband which is shown to bar staff when they order & pay for a drink; simple system, no wrist band, no alcohol.

    There is of course another time-hallowed tradition in NZ which circumvented the bar rules; marriage to someone over the legal drinking age, at which point the underage spouse was in presence of his/her guardian whilst drinking…
    I remember this being a feature of the district where I grew up, in the days when the age limit was 21 years. (Hence the drinking of a yard glass at 21sts, a great rural past-time which was practiced up for some months before the event by the boys at the rugby clubs…)

    Most of the social mores of 20th century NZ society derived from the male-dominated farming sector of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so it’s probably about time that we acknowledged our society is stuck in a time warp when it comes to alcohol. People drink to obliviate themselves as a reference to a society which hated being here “at the end of the earth” and was particularly good at making it’s members loath themselves. 150-oddyears on, we still have a huge problem with some folk who can’t just go out for a drink and a dance, they have to get paralytic before they can unwind.
    (Don’t you love social science research in action…)

    No drinking law in the world is going to solve that problem.
    Maybe a tax on alcohol that directly funds increased counselling in psychiatric services, which currently don’t have much direct alcohol/drug abuse funding???

  17. eredwen wrote:
    “The thing that I noticed most among the adolescents was the “culture? of (both sexes) drinking to get drunk, which seemed much more prevalent than it was in the 1950’s/60’s.

    I suspect that experience of marijuana etc was a causative factor … Those who had experienced “getting high on pot? going for a similar effect from alcohol.”

    I grew up in the 80s, but i don’t really think your cannabis connection was a factor in the drinking we did back then. if i think back to why we drank heavily (for me once a week only, every Saturday night) it was mainly to do with…

    dissolving innhibitions, temporary cure for shyness (particularly vis-a-vis the opposite sex), trying to reduce the socuial awkwardness often felt by 18 and 19 year olds, a sense of exhilleration and sharing (mainly in combination with music and dancing)…etc.

    none of our friends drove when they were blind drunk, but someone who was the designated driver would still usually have a few, so it was still risky behavior. but our socioeconomic and educational background curbed the riskiest behaviors, IMO.

    a few years later in life i began to become accutely aware of the need for adults to participate in ego-dissolving rituals every so often. alcohol, of course, is not one of the better means of achieving this, but for some people it can still help.

    anyway, i think each society’s use of consciousness-altering substances is extremely complex and there are very few straight-forward cause/effect relationships between particular factors and outcomes. and although i was victimized by the exact kind of law outlined above by frog when i was 19 (in a pub to see a band, not drinking at all, dragged outside by the cops and served with a summary offence notice later in the mail, which contained a complete lie that i had been drinking on licenced premises), i think it’s better to have 20 as the legal drinking age. but of course the restriction from seeing a band if you are 18 and don’t want to drink is silly. why can’t bar staff ask for i.d.?

  18. Prim wrote:
    “before criticising others’ logic, you would do well to consider your own, particularly your use of personal attacks. These do nothing to advance your case. ”

    well said. isn’t it interesting how so many of the ad hom attacks on this blog are instigated by the liberterian types? and their repetition of assertions (dogma?) without presenting evidence, in the apparent belief that if you repeat something often enough it will be accepted as fact?

    just an observation…

  19. Raising the cost of alcohol won’t fix the problem – in Europe, beer is generally cheaper than cola drinks (except France, where wine is cheaper than cola drinks) and the attitude to drinking is far more responsible.

    The issue is we have a culture of excessive drinking – Kiwis don’t stop after two or three drinks. Rather than Parliament banning 18 and 19 years olds, us older people need to set a far better example.

  20. Ross Bell: Thanks for that info.

    I have observed my (now mid 20’s) kids and their peers grow up and then settle down into “civilised” drinking patterns.

    The thing that I noticed most among the adolescents was the “culture” of (both sexes) drinking to get drunk, which seemed much more prevalent than it was in the 1950’s/60’s.

    I suspect that experience of marijuana etc was a causative factor … Those who had experienced “getting high on pot” going for a similar effect from alcohol.

  21. libertyscott – you need to update yourself on the evidence linking advertising to consumption (e.g. Effects of Alcohol Advertising Exposure on Drinking Among Youth, Snyder et al., Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med.2006; 160: 18-24.) Also, you’re wrong on Jim Anderton’s “sherry tax” – which targeted light spirits, and was a hugely successful measure. Again, check your evidence.

    Which brings me to the Green’s position on the purchase age. Metiria, Nandor et al know my views on this; while we agree on many drug policy things, the purchase age isn’t one.

    The Green Party advocates evidence-based drug policy – good. They’re ignoring the evidence on the drinking age – bad. On this one the Greens need to come clean – they oppose the increased age for ideological, not evidence reasons.

    Regards, Ross Bell, executive director, NZ Drug Foundation

  22. Kiore1 – your posting above appears to be regarding the Iceland whaling thread, so I have responded to it there. I copy my response below:

    Para 1: No, I did not say that.
    Para 2: see answer to Para 1. Also, I merely pointed out a potential future risk if population issues are not addressed. Ideally, population issues will be addressed appropriately; however, reality does not necessarily correspond with the ideal. Events to date may be somewhat illuminating. I drew no firm conclusion about what will actually happen.

    I would argue that humanity should be doing everything it reasonably can to live sustainably. ….

    All the best.

  23. Not so sure I follow your logic there Prim. Are you saying we should actively choose not to follow healthy lifestyles because our population will increase to fill the amount of resources available anyway. Even if that is true, then it is surely a better scenario to be ruining the planet feeding 30 billion people on a vegan diet than doing the same amount of damage feeding just 6.5 billion on a meat based diet.

    But it seems to take a rather pessimistic view of human society. If we become wise enought to realise our present diet is unsustainable both for our own health and that of the planet, then we shouldsurely also become wise enough to control our own population.

  24. “Just as one would not intentionally step on a nail, one should not intentionally do anything to impair the clear functioning of the mind. ”

    Which is, if I recall, from the olde Greek Philosopher Epictetus.

    Shame I no longer have the book.

    Fife has the right of it in part. Binge drinking damages people. It is an intentional disabling of the single thing that most clearly differentiates us from a herd of animals. In moderation both are tolerated by the society and, unless I miss my guess, by most people here as well.

    Will prohibitions work? Almost certainly not, and changing the age will not do anything wonderfully effective either. In short, I don’t expect to see a great deal of difference in behaviour.

    Why do people go to the more self-destructive extreme? Why in particular, is this a habit of our youth?

    I can only speculate, as it has never tempted me… and my speculation is this:

    Things are perceived as getting inexorably worse. The new generations see no chance to get into a house of their own, whilst their parents and grandparents own multiple properties. They see no opportunity to influence the world, it is being pushed over the precipice by politicians in foreign countries who are expecting “the rapture” to leave the rest of us to fend for ourselves. As a result the nihilism finds a fertile plot to grow on. “No brain, no pain”

    Which is not an excuse. The world may well be going to hell, and it may be driven by forces outside my control, but that is no reason not to enjoy the trip or to do my best to salvage what may be saved if I am able to do so. It does not reduce my responsibility to attempt to do so. It merely puts the knowledge of death in the mix, and that is not changed for any individual.

    I don’t like what they do, but the feeling of powerlessness is a potent incitement to them.


    Which is ALL speculation on my part. I have no experience with the temptation…


  25. I agree with fife.

    Laws often balance individual freedoms with other issues. That’s what Parliament does. And yes, different people differ on where the right balance is. We all have different perspectives. Such as the very valid perspective of people like KakapoVert, who deal every day with some of the downsides of alcohol use.

    BillBass – it would be interesting to understand where you are coming from on this issue. Please try to understand where other people are coming from. Discussions like these can be constructive, can help people to reach a wider understanding, and can shift people’s ideas. Regarding logic: as we can see, logic is not all; also, before criticising others’ logic, you would do well to consider your own, particularly your use of personal attacks. These do nothing to advance your case.

  26. My logic is this:

    1) Immaturity due to developing brain
    2) In large enough quantities, damage to said brain.
    3) Thus affecting the economy – if you’re worried about the brain drain, I don’t think ignoring this is wise.
    4) Increasing instances of violence. Yes, this does happen. Alcohol removes inhibitions, as well as being a depressant.

    Yes, I do agree that people have a right to choose for themselves. However, with culture as it is, they aren’t wise enough at this age. What would probably be best would be removing all age restrictions and having a culture as it is in Europe – people don’t start to binge drink when they hit the drinking age because it’s no big thing. And yes, it is slowly becoming more of a problem over there. However, there is a balance which can be achieved.

    If we cannot have this maturity about the use of alcohol however, I still think that the wiser decision is to raise the drinking age.

    One more thing to note: if alcohol had been discovered recently (rather than thousands of years ago), it would be labelled as a class A drug. I don’t know many others which are legal at all…

  27. oooh, unlimited freedom, we can’t have that….what a disaster that would be….
    very “Prim” and proper isn’t it…..
    I don’t have to respect logic that is clearly stupid. As Fife’s is and yours is. You reek of the sort of moral puritans the greens could well do without. the greens are at their best when being social liberals (true ones – for example how insane is it that you think 18 year olds should be able to drink but you wan tto ban alcohol advertising?)

  28. I think that the usual decision-making process attempts to reach the right kind of balance between costs and benefits for NZ as a whole. As kiore1, KakapoVert and others have pointed out, we have to weigh the benefit of the current basically unlimited freedom of 18-19 year olds to drink against the costs in death, rapes, assaults, cost of additional law enforcement etc. I know which side of the balance I’m on. They’ll still be able to have a beer. They’ll just be in company that should be better able to protect them from doing things they regret later. I think this Bill sounds like a great idea.

    Parliament is, has been, and always will be paternalistic. Part of its job is to protect people from themselves and others.

    Bill Bass – please respect others’ opinions. Don’t expect perfect logic on a blog. There probably is no such thing as perfect logic anyway. Expect life, opinions, emotion melded together. It all has value. I do agree with you that it is strange to treat 18 year olds as adults in some respects, and not in others. To some degree this may reflect how society wishes to use young people’s great energy, while keeping them sufficiently in line!

  29. Fife. Your argument is this:

    1. I don’t drink (“I am too wise and I know the scienfific effects”.
    2. I have friends who drink and I don’t like what it does to them.
    3. Therefore the drinking age should not be 18.

    That is actually pathetic. Sorry. It really is. What sort of wowser are you? seeking to control everyone else’s lives. Let them make up their own mind! Not everything is some rational scientific process you can work out and then impose on the world. It is called freedom for a reason. At 18 you can die for your country. You can vote. You can get married. You can do everything. But apparently you shouldn’t be able to have a beer? That is just sad.

  30. I’m eighteen and in first year engineering at Auckland.

    While I am not opposed to alcohol in general (although, like tammy91 I can’t stand the taste), I agree that the drinking age should be raised.

    1) Alcohol in low doses (such as a glass of wine a day) has positive effects, lowering the risk of heart desease and promoting a longer life expectancy.

    2) However, in higher quantities, alcohol severely impares cognitive function, along with damaging the liver and decreasing life expectancy.

    3) The brain stops developing at the age of 25.

    4) Where as binge drinking is defined scientifically (according to gender, age, body weight etc.) as around one and a half glasses of wine, in New Zealand culture it is seen as a far greater amount – enough to cause serious harm.

    My conclusion is this: People my age are not mature enough to be drinking in the way that they currently are. The teenage years are a time of huge chemical and mental change, and patterns set up in them stick for life.

    Even though binge drinking is part of our culture, if we can delay it until people are even slightly older, there is a lower likelyhood of a lifelong addiction. Such addictions can lead to the violence, drink driving, the breakdown of families – even murder in the extreme scenario. Any addiction is dangerous, this is merely one of the most prevalent in New Zealand society.

    I have friends who are incredibly clever. However, seeing them after a night of drinking you wouldn’t know this. They can barely string a sentance together – barely stand up. Over time this culminates in an incredible loss of potential for both the individual in question and New Zealand as a whole, and every time I see it it saddens me.

    I agree that it’s not fair for an eighteen or nineteen year old to be able to serve drinks in a bar and not drink them themselves. Perhaps if the law is changed it should take this into account and make it fair for all.

    We’re too young to drink in the way New Zealand culture prescribes. Let’s let us wait a few years.

  31. jeanette was on agenda this morning…

    i ‘reviewed’ her appearance..

    (if anyone is interested..)


  32. Maybe Tammy91 offers the best insight to these problems. Shes not intereted in drinking. Why is she not interested and all the other kids are?
    When we can answer that question honestly we might be able to do something about it.
    I think that it all comes back to a family base that is stable and feels it belongs to a just society. Tammy91 may be one of the few kids out there, oops, young adults out there who feels this belonging and acceptance… so she doesn’t need to drink to … feel she belongs to something.
    Drinking is an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Once we stop chucking all the youth off the edge, which we are doing with this paternalistic, over bureaucratised, success at all costs society, we will continue to see the end results of youth subconsciously not wanting to be a part of it.

  33. Am concerned that the reality of underage drinking is being ignored:
    herewith some reasons – thirty years of working with women and youth affected by alcohol and its effects – violence/youth drinking binges/suicides/ Youth Drug Court results in my counselling and teaching areas – girls as young as 15 who had already been prostitued/had several abortions/had a habit of a bottle of Bourbon a night and beer for breakfast!
    Also the results of drink driving effects- in Christchurch alone the monthly published Court reports for offences drink drive ones – are mainly in the 18-20 year range and usually two to three identify as students;
    Then there are the results seen over the last few years of the combination of Party Pills and Nitrous oxide capsules with alcohol as used by students in Halls (always 18-20 – as they are the only ones eligible to live in Halls) and the rampages through both the neighbourhood and the University;
    then there’s a couple of sexual assaults (on campus) and one rape in the environs, which occurred in every instance after all day ‘benders’ advertised around Uni by clubs who are funded by Liquor purveyors, i.e. Commerce by Tui and Ensoc by Steinlager! Then there’s the illegal advertising of alcohol through UCSA’s CANTA magazine five shots for five dollars at one stage! Hey that is spirits.
    In case you are asking what are we staff of Uni and residents doing: we are meeting (over the last several years)with Uni personnel, UCSA, petitioning MPs, meeting with Council, getting Public Health officers on board to work with Uni to allay the worst effects and to train bar staff to recognise the signs of inebriation! All got off the ground by a residents’ meeting which residents called with Council, City Council also, Uni, Public Health, ALAC, police and Community representatives.
    We need the drinking age to come down as then education can begin to make a difference.
    Kia kaha

  34. Actually there is quite a lot of evidence that lowering the drinking age has contributed to an increase in problem drinking, including an epidemiological study in the New Zealand medical journal providing quite convincing evidence that deaths through drunk driving had increased as a result of the drinking age being lowered.

    So really it all depends on whether you think the freedoms of some 18-19 year olds to drink (and yes most of them will be responsible drinkers) is more important than saving innocent lives.

    Certainly more education on binge drinking and other macho elements of New Zealand culture are required, but how does it follow logically that this can’t be done if we raise the drinking age. Why can’t we do both.


  35. Well said Frog, it is about time that adults were actually treated as adults. Plenty of 18 and 19yos drink responsibly and making it another forbidden fruit is not the answer to those who can’t control themselves. The “problem” is the culture and that wont be changed by other nanny state measures like patronising education messages or banning advertising (you need your head read if you think advertising alcohol induces people to drink – it almost entirely induces people to change products/brands. It is as mad as the “sherry tax” Anderton got introduced).

    An attitude that there is nothing wrong with drinking alcohol, that you wont be tolerated on licensed premises or on the streets when bladdered and obnoxious will encourage people to, by and large, be responsible. Remember that getting drunk occasionally when you are young, and with friendly company, is pretty harmless. The real targets need to be parents who leave their kids to get drunk at the pub – that’s where the most harm occurs.

  36. As a 15 year old I’m kind of ambivalent on this issue. For myself I don’t really care what the drinking age is – I’ve tried various alcoholic drinks and can’t stand the taste – but many of my friends drink regularly – none of them more than 2 years older than me. Something more constructive might be to try to address the issue of young teenagers regularly getting hold of alcohol and getting pissed.

  37. The bloody drinking age should never have been lowered in the first place, for once a Labour party member has introduced something decent into the house.

  38. The way to stop young people drinking to excess is to ban sweet RTDs and cheap bland lagers. Once the only drinks available are single malt scotches, Dry Martinis, top-fermented ales and brutally tannic Cab Savs, no-one under the age of 30 will want to drink at all!

    But seriously, I agree that the age limits need to be more strictly enforced, and there needs to be more emphasis on the value of quality over quantity, but the age shouldn’t be raised.

    ALAC probably doesn’t help with its overly simplistic and po-faced definitions of binge drinking. By equating drinking a bottle of wine over the course of an evening with necking a six-pack of RTDs and looking for a fight, it probably does more to encourage an “ooh, binge drinking is naughty, let’s do it because authority tells us not to” response than it does to encourage sensible drinking. Rather than saying “tut tut, seven standard drinks in a session makes you a problem drinker” it should say “hmm, that’s not great for your liver, but if you’re going to get drunk, please try not to be a dickhead”.

    As Baudelaire once said: “There are wicked drunkards; they are people who are naturally wicked. The wicked man becomes abominable, just as the good man becomes truly excellent.”

    Right, I’m off to the pub.

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