Tonga raises drinking age

Monday July 28, 2014 Written by Matangi Tonga Published in Regional
Tonga raises drinking age

The Tongan parliament this week passed a law raising the alcoholic drinking age from 18 to 21 years old.

 

The Bill was introduced into parliament by the Minister of Health, Lord Tu’i’afitu.

He said the bill was an attempt to counter the perpetuation of violence among teenagers.

He said he was convinced that the consumption of alcoholic drinks by teenagers was the root cause of their violent behaviours.

The Minister of Education,  Dr ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki, supported the bill.

She told the House that she had a report on her desk about six Tonga High School students who were found drunk, including five girls and one boy.

The Minister of Justice,  Clive Edwards reminded the House that most of the youth, 18 years and under were still at school, and that 21 is the age of maturity.

The voting age for Tongans in a parliamentary election is from 21 years old and upward.

The People’s Representative for ‘Eua pointed out that at the age of 16 a male could own land, and at 18 one can get married.

Lord Tu’iha’ateiho, however expressed his concern over how some families would have to readjust their life style under the proposed raising of the age limit for drinking.

He said it was normal for some families with their 18 year-old son or daughter to have a wine with their dinner in a restaurant.

He also pointed out that, at the moment, an 18 year-old could go into a bar and have a beer, but they would not be able to do that once the Bill was enacted.

The House was unanimous in their support of the Bill to Amend the Manufacture of Intoxicating Liquor Act to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21 years, with votes of 15-0.

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