No to drinking age, Yes to education

No to drinking age, Yes to education
Posed photo of a woman standing and facing the wall, with a bottle of alcohol and a wine glass in her hands, to illustrate an article on alcohol addiction.

There is no need to raise the legal drinking age to 21, as in the US.

When contacted, the chairman for the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Culture, Community and Youth, Mr Baey Yam Keng, said: "A vast majority of our youth drink responsibly, so I wouldn't want to penalise everyone just because of the irresponsible few," said Mr Baey, a Member of Parliament (MP) for Tampines GRC.

Recently, The Health Promotion Board (HPB) said it was studying New York's recent move to raise the minimum age for cigarette purchase from 18 to 21.

HPB also said last month that it was monitoring Australia's efforts to impose plain packaging for cigarettes, among other measures, to reduce the number of smokers here.

Asked if HPB's studies could be applied to drinkers, Mr Baey said: "To me, smoking is not good for your health but social drinking, in moderate doses, is fine."

Deputy chairman for the Culture, Community and Youth GPC, Mr David Ong, said he supports "any measures that promote the well-being of our youth, especially alcohol addiction".

Raising the legal drinking age may be the right step but this could also be merely "a quick fix to the problem", added the Jurong GRC MP.

"More focus should be placed on raising the awareness of responsible drinking and making sound choices."

One of those choices is making young people realise the dangers behind binge drinking, which is defined by the Health Ministry as having six or more drinks on a single occasion over a short period of time, experts told The New Paper.

Dr Munidasa Winslow, an addictions specialist at Promises - a mental health and addictions consulting service - said: "Most people develop drinking problems over time but the younger ones I've encountered also abuse alcohol, meaning they binge drink or drink a lot at one time."

Psychologist Daniel Koh of Insights Mind Centre agreed, saying that young people tend to turn to alcohol to cope with stress or as a way to feel mature.

But some don't know when to stop. And this can be dangerous.

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