Yong Kim Eng talks about setting legal age for alcohol sales

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People’s Centre for Development and Peace (PDP) president Yong Kim Eng. Yong Kim Eng via fb

Three major ministries – the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport – are considering setting a legal minimum age at which people can consume alcoholic beverages.

With the irresponsible consumption of alcohol resulting in a high rate of traffic accidents, the ministries are set to consider an age requirement to best protect public health and safety.

The People’s Centre for Development and Peace (PDP) president Yong Kim Eng shares his views on the issue.

Why is it necessary to set an age requirement for alcohol?

Determining an age limit for drinking alcohol has happened in many countries to protect their young people, especially for avoiding health problems, reducing traffic accidents and affecting their studies.

Dependence on alcohol can affect study or work, so in some countries they have determined an older age for drinking, like the US, where it is 21.

Why? The reason is, the higher the age for alcohol consumption, the lower the risks. When people reach the age of 20, they are generally more responsible. But at a younger age, between 14-18 years old, the body and mind is not yet developed enough to handle alcohol, bringing dangers for young people and society at large.

How should the process be done?

Determining a legal age for drinking alcohol should have the involvement of relevant ministries and civil organisations. It should be based on studies and research from other countries together with research in Cambodia, which we already have.

It has not been difficult in other countries due to clear policies, with requirements such as showing an ID card or other form of identification when buying alcohol to prove whether a person really is old enough to drink according to the law.Otherwise, a legal drinking age means nothing.

Therefore, we must put the responsibility on the seller. Sellers should be fined if they do not follow the law.

How do things currently stand with alcohol in Cambodia?

Alcohol abuse in Cambodia is responsible for a number of problems. The damage to health is a major concern, with more than 200 type of diseases, especially non-communicable ones such as high blood pressure, liver disease, diabetes and many others.

Other issues are social, with drunk young “gangsters” fighting and causing social insecurity, with many instances of domestic violence coming from a spouse abusing alcohol.

Families can also fall into poverty if family members or breadwinners excessively use alcohol and become alcoholics.

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Three ministries are considering setting a legal minimum age at which people can consume alcoholic beverages. Post Staff

What measures should be taken against those who ignore the law?

Anyone who violates the age limit should be fined, while inciting a minor to buy or consume alcohol should be punished with imprisonment as a deterrent.

As in the Penal Code, we have restrictions on inciting minors to use alcohol, so the measures should be the same.

How can an alcohol age minimum be implemented successfully?

A successful implementation of the policy depends on having clear mechanisms for inspecting and imposing fines on those who violate it. At the same time, authorities should work with store owners to ensure they are selling only to people above the age as stated in the law.

The law should be disseminated to all local authorities so they clearly understand it and can implement it properly. Any authority negligent in implementing the law should be punished or fined so that they will pay greater attention to enforcing it effectively.

Successful implementation also needs the participation of relevant civil organisations. At the same time, the follow-up and implementation mechanisms should be set up at the national and local levels. If there are no follow-up mechanisms, such a policy will be unable to succeed.