Alcohol death: King’s mother’s plea to John Key

NZ Herald May 11, 2010

A doctor and mother of a King’s College student – spurred by the death of 16-year-old James Webster – has written to fellow school parent John Key to demand action from the Government over New Zealand’s youth drinking culture. “Today my son (and yours) dresses in formal uniform to go to school and remember another student who has died this year,” Margaret Abercrombie said in her letter to Mr Key yesterday. “Right now you and your colleagues can act to reduce the chances of this and other alcohol-related tragedies happening.”

…The Government is considering a report from the Law Commission on alcohol issues, which includes over 150 recommendations on how to reduce harm from excessive drinking. The report noted the harm that alcohol caused among youths, including increasing trends among 15- to 17-year-olds to drink more and to start drinking earlier. Police say the lowering of the purchase age for alcohol in 1999 has contributed to an increase in binge drinking among youths and effectively reduced the drinking age from 17 to 14, though some districts report dealing with intoxicated 11- and 12-year-olds. The commission recommended lifting the purchase age from 18 to 20, making it illegal for those under 20 to drink or have alcohol in a public place, and making it illegal to supply alcohol to under-18s unless it comes from the parents and in a responsible manner.