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23 July 2014

SA youth want drinking age lowered

In a survey, 50 percent of respondents believe it appropriate for people under 18 to drink alcoholic drinks and want the legal drinking age to be lowered.

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One in two young South Africans believe the current legal drinking age of 18 should be lowered, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

"The survey found that 50 percent of respondents believed it appropriate for people under 18 to drink alcoholic drinks," consumer insights company Pondering Panda said in a statement.

"Forty-three percent of 15 to 17-year-olds felt the age at which people should legally be able to drink should be under 18, compared to 54 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds, and 48 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds."

Among race groups, young white South Africans were the most likely to want a legal drinking age under 18.

Read: Lower drinking ages lead to more binge drinking

"Almost two thirds of whites [63 percent] felt the legal drinking age should be lowered, compared to 59 percent of coloureds, and 46 percent of blacks," it said.

"There were also regional differences, with respondents from the North West [59 percent], Limpopo [57 percent], and the Free State [57 percent] the most likely to support a legal drinking age under 18."

KwaZulu-Natal respondents were the least in favour of a lower drinking age.

The company interviewed 4657 respondents between the ages of 15 and 34 across South Africa in May on cellphones and the internet.

Underage drinking problem

"One in two young people feel it’s okay to drink alcohol before the age of 18 and would like to lower the legal drinking age. These figures align well with similar studies on underage drinking in South Africa," said Shirley Eadie, spokeswoman for Pondering Panda.

"However, balancing this liberal view, is that we’ve also found that about half of young people feel underage drinking is a problem, which affects how they view the legal drinking age."

Read: Higher drinking age may help women

Eadie said the survey put a spotlight on underage drinking in the country, and the "disturbingly" high support for legalising it.

"What we know is that underage drinking is very prevalent in our society. The question is, what are we going to do about it?"

Read more:

Aussie daughters drink more than moms at same age
Heavy drinking in middle age affects men's minds
Impulsive adolescents more prone to heavy drinking

 
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