Total alcohol ban for Belgian youngsters

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Youngsters under the age of 16 will not be able to buy alcohol in shops from next year.

Public Health Minister Laurette Onkelinx (Francophone socialist) announced the measure.

It is already illegal to sell alcohol to youngsters under the age of 16 in café's or restaurants. Youngsters however can be sold wine or beer in shops. They are not allowed to be sold spirits until the age of 18. From next year shopkeepers will not be allowed to sell youngsters under 16 beer or wine either.

The professional association of the Flemish restaurants, cafés and hotels is happy that a total alcohol ban will be implemented. "This will finally put an end to the unfair competition," says chairman of the association Jan De Haes. "Whoever sells alcohol to youngsters can no longer sit back and plead ignorance," Mr De Haes adds.

Photo VRTUnizo, the retailers' organisation, however is critical of the measure. An alcohol ban does not make sense, says Unizo, unless the parents, youth groups and youngsters themselves back the measure.

The general alcohol ban for youngsters under 16 is included in a health bill that will soon be submitted to the council of ministers.

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