Sydney Morning Herald 12 May 2014
Pressure is mounting for Australian governments to raise the legal drinking age to 21 to protect the health of young people whose brains are still vulnerable to the toxicity of alcohol at 18, leading health experts say.
Four professors of mental health and public health have joined a growing list of influential Australians to call for a new legal drinking age that would bring Australia in line with the US where people cannot buy alcohol until they are 21.
They say raising the age limit would protect young people from the brain damage that can be caused by too much alcohol and the harms associated with being drunk, such as car accidents and violence.
Writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, John Toumbourou of Deakin University’s School of Psychology, Ian Hickie of the Brain & Mind Research Institute, Kypros Kypri of the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle, and Sandra Jones from the Centre for Health Initiatives at the University of Wollongong, said there was increasing evidence that the accessibility of alcohol from the age of 18 was causing great harm to young people.
For example, they said a survey of 260 people aged 17 to 19 during end-of-school celebrations on the Queensland Gold Coast in 2010 showed 75 per cent played drinking games, 64 per cent consumed more than 10 drinks per night, and one in five had unprotected sex, in some cases with multiple partners.