Crackdown on teenage drinkers

Crackdown on teenage drinkers

6th October 2008, Comments 0 comments

"Young people have come to regard drinking alcohol as perfectly normal." Maastricht Mayor, Gerd Leers

Dutch Health Minister Ab Klink has announced he will amend existing legislation to make it illegal for young people under the age of sixteen to be in the possession of alcohol in public. Parliament asked the minister to change the law to help reduce public disturbances.
However, Minister Klink (photo right) rejected parliament's request to make it an offence for young people to drink at home. He said that was the parents' responsibility. The minister also decided against a ban on young people buying alcohol because it would be impossible to enforce. A ban on the sale of alcohol to under 16s is already 
in existence.
"Young people have come to regard drinking alcohol as perfectly normal." 
Maastricht Mayor, Gerd Leers
In a recent interview with mass-circulation daily De Telegraaf Maastricht Mayor Gerd Leers says that Dutch society is facing a disrupting alcohol problem but is focussing exclusively on stricter soft drug policies.
"Each year one user of magic mushrooms will jump out of a window and drug abuse may claim five victims, but tens of thousands are ruined by alcohol abuse". 
"Just open the Monday papers and read how busy the police have been at the weekend with alcohol-related incidents. Illegal bars in barns, kids getting drunk before they go out to save money in the bars, binge drinking, street violence, vandalism; more and more often we see young people out of control".
Resources needed
Mr Leers says the cabinet should put much more energy and resources into the fight against alcohol abuse, but has yet to detect a sense of urgency in The Hague.
"The government should set clear limits, take action and introduce stricter sentences. Parents should be held co-responsible, as should café's, bars and other providers of alcohol. And finally, young people using alcohol and drugs should be made aware of what they are doing. Young people have come to regard drinking alcohol as perfectly normal.
Minister agrees
In an interview published on the Dutch website, which forms part of the national alcohol temperance campaign 'Prevent alcohol-related damage in your growing child', Minister Klink would appear to agree with Mayor Leers (photo above left). The minister says:
"If an objective public health risk assessment of all addictive substances were carried out, tobacco and alcohol would fall under the Opium Law (be classified as illegal drugs, ed.). But social and economic factors also play a role".
The minister's remarks came in reaction to questions from parliament prompted by a recent study by UK scientists published in medical journal The Lancet. The study shows that alcohol and tobacco are actually more harmful to public health than either cannabis or Ecstasy.

* is hosted by the Trimbos institute, the Netherlands Institute for Mental Health and Addiction. The website is in Dutch only. The campaign to "Prevent alcohol-related damage in your growing child" is implemented by the institute at the request of the government.
Georg Schreuder Hes 
October 2008
Radio Netherlands

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