“Raise alcohol drinking age from 18 to 21”- Health Ministry proposes

“Raise alcohol drinking age from 18 to 21”- Health Ministry proposes
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The Ministry of Health has proposed to have the minimum age of people allowed to drink alcohol in Uganda raised from 18 to 21 years.

The call was made on Tuesday by Hafsa Lukwata, Assistant Commissioner, Health Services at Ministry of Health.

Speaking to journalists at Parliament, Lukwata argued that at 18 years, one’s brain is still developing and thus, should not be allowed to make a life altering decision like taking alcohol.

“They (movers of The Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill) have put the age of 18 at which people are supposed to start drinking at 18 years, we are saying this age isn’t okay, it should be 21 years and there is already science around this age and research was actually done by many scientists and they found that if someone hasn’t taken alcohol or any abusive substance by the age of 21, there are so little chances of this person starting to take this substance," Lukwata, said.

Meanwhile she disclosed that Uganda has already set the precedent under the Tobacco Control Act where the legal age when someone is allowed to smoke cigarettes is 21 years and that there is a lot of science, backing the fact that at 21 years, one is still young because their brains are continuing to develop.

“Do you know why sports betting is at 25 years? These things change the functioning of the brain. But I am asking people out there, look at your children, look at what they are capable of doing, look at the kind of decisions they make. Such a person can’t be left to take a decision about their life,” she said.

According to data by WHO, Uganda ranks Uganda among the leading countries for high rates of alcohol consumption.

It is estimated that Ugandans currently consume 12.2 litres of alcohol per person annually, which is significantly higher than the global average.

According to Lukwata, revising legal drinking age from 18 to 21, will help to save the future of many young drinkers.

“A child of 21 is a little more developed mentally, they are more organised and they are usually at campus, but an 18 year old these days, is in S.4, you can’t let a S.4 child to take a decision about their life, something that is going to affect their future," Lukwata noted.

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