New calls have come from the Clinical Senate of WA (comprising of 75 elite health professionals) to raise the legal drinking age of young people to 21 years old.

A position statement has been presented to Health Minister Kim Hames. The reasons sighted are the need to tackle binge drinking, increased risk taking behaviour by young people when they are under the influence of alcohol and the fact that at 18 the teenage brain is still developing.

The senate is also calling on all GP’s to carry out an alcohol history assessment when seeing new patients.

Also Dr Hames does not support raising the legal drinking age to 21 years old he did agree that “There is a need to recognise that every clinical consultation is an opportunity for a brief intervention and the need to promote responsible drinking messages.”

Other measures proposed include raising the price of alcohol and banning alcohol advertising on TV during sporting programs.

Tax payers in WA are forking out $95 million each year to cover alcohol related hospital admissions, including $20 alone for alcohol caused falls.

The World Health Organisation and other leading health bodies have shown that raising the drinking age helps to reduce alcohol-related injuries.

The senate’s chair Kim Gibson said “The driving age and the drinking age are very close in WA,” she said. “If you’re able to separate them, you can have some impact on the road trauma figures. One issue is the maturity of the brain and behaviours around risk.”

“The younger population is into risk-taking and so if you wait for more maturity you’re not matching the risk-taking with the alcohol consumption.”

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: Perth Now