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Belgium called on to raise the age for access to alcohol

Credit: Belga

Belgium has been called on to consider raising the age for access to alcohol in an effort to combat excessive consumption and subsequent hospitalisation.  

To limit abuse, “effective measures could be taken regarding the sale of alcohol to minors” and “to delay the age of access to alcoholic beverages,” announced Marijs Geirnaert, director of the Flemish Centre of Expertise on Alcohol and Drugs (VAD).

Figures released by the Intermutualist Agency (AIM) say that an average of six 12 to 17-year olds are admitted to hospital every day due to excessive alcohol consumption.

This, according to Geirnaert, is a trend which requires action.

“There are measures that have proven their effectiveness, such as raising the minimum age of access to alcohol to 18 years,” said director Geirnaert. 

Health Minister Maggie De Block (Open Vld) is not in favour of such changes, as “there’s a risk we could make some products more attractive by banning them.” 

“The reasoning is wrong,” said Geirnaert. “Five to ten years ago in the Netherlands, there were many drunk people… until the country raised the age of access to alcoholic beverages. Then their numbers dropped.”

Further measures recommended by the VAD include increasing the price of alcoholic drinks and reducing the amount of advertising for them. “Alcohol has to be more expensive than fizzy drinks and water, which is not currently the case.” 

The Brussels Times