Majority support raising drinking age

Nearly three fourths of poll respondents think teens should be 18 to buy alcohol

A vast majority of Danes support raising the legal purchase age of alcohol from the current 16 to 18, according to a newly released poll.

In an Epinion poll of 1,126 Danes conducted for Retail Institute Scandinavia, 73 percent said it was “a good idea” or “a very good idea” to forbid the sale of alcohol to individuals under 18.

Sharing that opinion was the health minister, Astrid Krag of the Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF).

“Danes’ high alcohol consumption is to blame for poor health and a lower life span, and especially among the younger population we have a problem that we must tackle,” Krag said to Berlingske newspaper. “Therefore, I’m happy to the see the opinion results and I believe that the age limit is one of the things we should adjust.”

An opposition MP, however, pointed out that it seemed illogical that the same government that has proposed allowing 16-year-olds to vote would now suggest removing their right to purchase alcohol.

“Completely illogical. The government believes that 16-year-olds should have the right to vote, but are not old enough to buy a beer,” the Konservative spokesperson Benedikte Kiær wrote on Twitter.

Illogical or not, the president of the prevention council Vidensrådet for Forebyggelse, Morten Grønbæk, said that raising the drinking age by two years would have a significant effect.

“If you want to do something about the high alcohol intake among youth, changing the age limit for when they can buy drinks is one of the most effective things you can do,” Grønbæk told Berlingske.

Danish teens notoriously lead the EU in alcohol intake, though the numbers have fallen in recent years. Although Danish teenagers can purchase alcoholic drinks in stores – provided they have an alcohol by volume percentage of under 16.5, thanks to a March 2011 law change – the age for being served in alcohol in bars, restaurants and clubs is 18. In most other European countries, the age for both is 18.

Although Krag expressed support for raising the drinking age, she stopped short of making an concrete policy suggestions. SFÂ’s coalition parties are split on the notion, with Radikale supporting a hike in the age limit and Socialdemokraterne against changing the current policy.