Government's new law to protect young from alcohol and tobacco falls short of expectations

by LEO OLIVERO
The Government's new Bill, the Children and Young Persons (Alcohol. Tobacco and Gaming) Ordinance 2006, falls short of expectations.

The initial reaction to this new legislation must be one of welcomed news, particularly because of the many concerns regarding these social problems that have increased substantially over recent years.

When closely reading this new proposed Ordinance there is great disappointment in many areas, which could have seen the introduction of many other statutory measures, important measures that have been omitted, particularly on the drug abuse problem.

The local drug abuse issue with its well known serious health and social implications has been on the increase for the last 4 or 5 years, alcohol abuse particularly amongst young people has become Gibraltar?s main drug problem and concern to many in this community.

FIRMER FOOTING

The Government has published this new Bill primarily to protect children and young persons from being served, sold, or bought alcohol or tobacco. The new legislation is certainly welcomed. The new laws will extend and enhance to the Police very much needed powers. The police in some areas will be on a much firmer footing, this as they set about dealing with alcohol and tobacco purchases and sales to young persons, but in other areas of the ordinance I believe that the police in an operational and practical sense will see the ordinance as quite a demanding obligation to perform.

WHY 16?

There are a few fundamental issues regarding this new legislation that really hits at the heart of the whole problem of alcohol and drugs abuse where kids and young people are concerned. The important matter concerning the prohibition of sale of alcohol and tobacco to persons under 16 years, an age group that Government have introduced in the new Ordinance is a major and crucial issue and one which I believe is going to be a big mistake.

The whole object of bothering or making an effort to improve on the current situation regarding the problem with under age drinking and protecting the young is to make a difference, particularly if you are going to change the law. This new legislation looks a worthwhile piece of law in parts, but falls flat on its face when it comes to the all-important drinking age limit.

Why has Government not extended to our own kids the same level of protection, if this is what this law is all about, as those afforded in the United Kingdom to youngsters there. Over in the U.K. the alcohol age limit is 18 years of age.

What reasoning is behind not introducing in Gibraltar an 18 year old age limit on the consumption at least of alcohol, where is the understanding, appreciation and forward thinking on this very important social problem which has got out of control in recent years.

The U.K. drinking laws that allows youngsters to consume alcohol at 18 years has stood the test of time, there are scientifically proven facts to back this up, this together with health and other socially proven evidence has convinced most people on this planet of these dangers.. the abuse of substances like alcohol and tobacco in particular at a young age dramatically increases the chances of falling prey much sooner in life to a host of health, family and social pit falls, which could also have other associated problems later on in life, again these are facts.




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