Danish campaign aims to increase the age limit for purchasing alcohol

The Danish Cancer Society is orchestrating a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the high levels of alcohol consumption among young Danes and to draw attention to teenagers’ easy access to alcoholic beverages. The upcoming report from the WHO Regional Office for Europe, “Policy in action – a tool for measuring alcohol policy implementation”, shows that Denmark has implemented very few of the recommended policy options to address the availability of alcohol. The Danish Cancer Society is therefore advocating an increase in the minimum legal purchase age, an effective means of reducing alcohol consumption and related harm among young people.

Danish youth the highest binge drinkers in Europe
Among 15–16-year-olds in Denmark, 32% reported having been drunk in the past 30 days, compared to the European average of 13%. The high level of binge drinking among youth leads to significant health consequences. Alcohol is every year responsible for hospital visits for about 1400 Danes aged 15–19 years. In addition, in the past year, almost 1 in 10 Danes aged 15–16 years reported having had unprotected sexual intercourse under the influence of alcohol, and the same proportion had experienced unwanted sexual advances.

Age limits – an effective policy
Decreasing alcohol availability is one of the most effective interventions for reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm among young people. In particular, a higher minimum legal purchase age, supported by adequate enforcement, can reduce youth drinking and associated negative consequences. WHO recommends a minimum age of at least 18 years for purchase of all alcoholic beverages in all establishments, including restaurants, bars, supermarkets and kiosks. Denmark is among the 10 Member States of the WHO European Region with a legal purchase age below 18 years, while 41 countries have an age limit of 18 years and two have a minimum purchase-age limit of 20 years.

The Danish Cancer Society is making an appeal to organizations and institutions concerned about the health of children and young people, to gather support for an increased legal purchase age. The campaign emphasizes the high level of public support for an increased legal limit – in fact, 50% of Danes are in favour of an 18-year age limit. The campaign also highlights that an increased age limit sends an important signal to parents, young people, and society in general that alcohol should not be consumed by children. An 18-year age limit will also harmonize the minimum purchase age across alcohol and tobacco products.

Source: WHO Europe