Consider raising legal drinking age

Recently, Parliament passed a Bill to raise the legal smoking age to 21 progressively after consultations with the public and taking into account the many adverse effects of smoking (Legal smoking age to be raised in stages to 21; Nov 8, 2017).

The legal drinking age, however, remains at 18.

Over the years, the Government has put in efforts to educate the young on smoking, as well as stepped up strict enforcement actions against retailers selling tobacco products to minors.

However, it seems to have left out the problem of youth getting hooked on alcohol. Little has been done to tackle underage drinking, too.

I have not read news of enforcement actions taken against retailers for serving alcohol to minors, or of a platform for the public to report suspected incidents of underage drinking.

This can give the young the impression that drinking is less harmful than smoking and that they can continue drinking.

Raising only the smoking age may lead to more young people turning to alcohol as an alternative, which could lead to binge drinking and alcohol addiction.

But, as many studies have proven, alcohol puts young people at increased risk of physical and social harm, such as accidents andnegative effects on brain development and education.

Raising only the smoking age may lead to more young people turning to alcohol as an alternative, which could lead to binge drinking and alcohol addiction.

This could result in an increase in drink-driving accidents, alcohol intoxication and public disorder, threatening the peace and safety of the public.

The minimum legal drinking age must be raised in tandem with the minimum legal smoking age. Tougher enforcement actions against underage drinking should also be taken.

Wee Yan Loong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2018, with the headline 'Consider raising legal drinking age'. Print Edition | Subscribe