There was an article in The Herald yesterday about a proposal made by an SNP MSP to increase the age at which people can legally buy alcohol to 21.
I can see quite a few reasons why this is a silly idea.
First of all, it would mean that lots of people would have left home by the time they started started drinking, thus making it impossible for their parents to supervise their drinking habits and teaching them responsible drinking.
Second, it would mean that most people would have been driving for several years by the time they started to drink, which could make them quite unprepared for the effect of alcohol on the ability to drive.
Third, it would just make it more attractive to go binge-drinking in places where drinking would still be legal at a younger age, whether Ireland, England or France.
Fourth, it would mean that drugs such as ecstasy wouldn’t just be cheaper than beer in many establishments, but both would be illegal for young people, so it would be even harder to prevent youngsters from taking up drugs.
Instead of raising the legal age for buying alcohol, I think it should be lowered to 13 when the young person is accompanied by much older people (such as their parents), so long as only moderate amounts are ordered. In that way, young people could learn to drink responsibly by being served a pint or a glass of wine with their food, so that the novelty effect would have worn off by the time they could drink on their own.
Furthermore, there should be a clampdown on serving visibly drunk customers alcohol in pubs and elsewhere, again to encourage responsible drinking.