Health minister says 18-year-olds not mature enough to drink

Malaysia’s new alcohol regulations prohibits of the sale of alcoholic beverages to those aged below 21 years old. — AFP pic
Malaysia’s new alcohol regulations prohibits of the sale of alcoholic beverages to those aged below 21 years old. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 ― Putrajaya raised the legal age for alcohol purchase to 21 from 18 to prevent purportedly immature college students from drinking, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said today.

He said the government did not want “school kids” to buy alcoholic beverages.

“Some are in college,” Dr Subramaniam told a press conference here, when pointed out that those aged above 18 are no longer in school.

“After that, they're in a mature situation to drink. So that's the reason we raised it ― so the level of maturity is higher,” he added.

Malay Mail Online reported last Saturday Malaysia’s new alcohol regulations, effective December 1 2017, that include the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic beverages to those aged below 21 years and the imposition of a health warning that says in Malay, “Consuming alcohol can be hazardous to health”, on the labels of alcohol products.

Dr Subramaniam confirmed yesterday the gazetting of the Food (Amendment) Regulations 2016 last month that included new rules on compounded hard liquor (CHL), which is defined as a blend of two or more types of spirits like whiskey, rum, vodka and brandy, that will only be allowed to be sold in glass bottles with a minimum volume of 700 ml.

The minister said today that the CHL regulations were targeted at cheap liquor sold at coffee shops, not cocktails served at bars.

He also acknowledged that while the majority of Malaysians do not consume alcohol, “some people can drink to destroy their health”, as he defended the imposition of health warnings on alcohol products.

“So that warning is not geared towards people who are very responsible; it's telling the others 'don't be irresponsible with your drinking',” said Dr Subramaniam.

According to the World Health Organisation’s global status report on alcohol and health 2014, Malaysia ranked 162nd out of 191 countries on alcohol consumption per capita at just 1.3 litres in 2010.

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