No recommendation to increase legal age for alcohol consumption
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    No recommendation to increase legal age for alcohol consumption

    © Belga
    The working group recommend checks by so-called “mystery shoppers” at the point of sale for alcohol.
    © Belga

    Researchers from the Université de Liège (ULiège), from University College Ghent (HoGent) and the University of Ghent have analysed the government’s alcohol legislation. Their resulting study is reported in L’Avenir and De Morgen on Wednesday. One of the questions examined was whether it is necessary to increase the minimum age threshold fixed in the 2009 law for alcohol consumption, currently at a minimum of 18 years for spirits, and 16 for beer or wine. The researchers say that the current response is “No”.

    Cécile Mathys, a doctor in psychology says, “Results obtained from abroad in the countries which have increased the legal age prove to be contradictory.” She is of one of the promoters of the study. Mathys says, “We notice in these countries a benefit amongst older consumers, who consciously drink less, but not those aged 16 years.” Rather than prohibiting alcohol, we should actually undertake “awareness-raising and create a sense of responsibility” within the groups we have studied.

    Amongst the working group’s recommendations, checks by so-called “mystery shoppers” at the point of sale for alcohol feature. In addition changing the law to enable barmen to check the customer’s age, “starting with a reference age of 25 years”, and automated checks for a large group of youngsters, should make this practice part of every day life.

    Is it necessary to increase the price of alcohol? Cécile Mathys states that it should not, in any case, decrease, but as to any potential increase, “we recommend that a further specific study should be undertaken on this subject.”

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times