The Health Bureau (SSM) has proposed that the minimum age for the purchase of alcohol be set at 18 years old, as announced at a press conference on Friday. The bill to be discussed proposes penalties for the sale or supply of alcohol to minors.
The relevant legislative consultation is expected to be carried out in the second half of this year, according to Lam Chong, head of the bureau’s Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
During the consultation, the SSM will hear society’s opinions on the definition of alcohol.
The practicalities of the bill are still awaiting discussion by the relevant industry bodies and the public. These include requirements for the presentation of identification when buying alcohol.
The legislation proposal further suggests banning sales and advertising of alcohol to underage children.
According to a survey conducted in Macau, nearly 80 percent of middle school students interviewed had had experiences with alcohol. Eight percent have over- drunk and 1.6 percent said they had become drunk.
According to another survey conducted in 2016, the median age of initial alcohol consumption for Macau youth is 15.75 years old, and 41 percent of respondents were drunk for the first time before age 15.
The youth interviewed also consumed alcohol on average 6.35 times per month, with some drinking as often as 40 times per month.
The youngest child who had consumed alcohol was 4 years old, according to the 2016 survey.
In most countries around the world, the legal age for alcohol purchase is between 16 and 21 years old.
The SSM said that the bureau has already studied the policies of other countries and regions regarding age limits for the purchase of alcohol. JZ