Monday, January 09, 2006

Miriam files bill vs underage drinking

A BILL seeking to aggressively address the growing problem of underage drinking in the country has been filed in the Senate.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has filed Senate Bill No. 2143 or the "Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee to Prevent Underage Drinking Act of 2006.

Santiago wants to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors.

She also wants stiff sanctions to be meted on the owners and proprietors of clubs, bars, and stores selling alcoholic beverages to minors.

"Establishments selling liquor should first require an identification card showing the date of birth or age of the person who wants to buy alcohol to make sure that that person is over 18 years old," the senator said. "The problem with us it that we're too lax or we do not seem to have any scruples about selling alcohol

“We should adopt the practice in other countries of banning the sale of alcohol to young people.”

to young people. There are parents who even ask their children to buy alcohol for them from neighboring stores."

"We should adopt the practice in other countries of banning the sale of alcohol to young people," she said. "In the United States, for example, one has to be 21 years old to buy alcohol."

Studies have shown that young people who began drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol addiction than those who began drinking at age 21.

The 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality study reported that out of the 16.5 million young people in the Philippines as of 2002, 11.6 million have drunk alcohol beverages.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's 2004 Vital Statistics Mortality Data, alcohol-related motor vehicles accidents accounts for 35% of the annual death rate among persons ages 15 to 20 years old in Southeast Asia alone.

Santiago proposed the creation of an inter-agency council that will focus on drafting measures to prevent underage drinking. The council shall be composed of the Department of Health, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Education, the National Youth Commission, and the Sangguniang Kabataan.

The council shall have the following functions:

lGuide policy and program development across the national government and local government units with respect to underage drinking.

lActively consult with all appropriations and interested parties, including public health research and interest groups, non-government organizations, and alcohol beverage industry trade associations and companies.

lCollect data and conduct or support research on underage drinking with respect to: patterns and consequences of underage drinking; date on the exposure of young people to messages regarding alcohol from advertising and the entertainment media; comprehensive community-based programs or strategies to prevent underage drinking; and evidence-based best practices to both prevent underage drinking and provide treatment services to young people who need them. Camille P. Balagtas,

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