Youth Alcohol Use Awareness Campaign

The St. Maarten Lions Club has taken their Youth Alcohol Use Awareness Campaign to the next level. On Sunday February 15th 2015, the club launched its online petition to get the government to amend the law by raising the legal drinking age. The legal drinking age is now 16. This means that children aged 16 can legally walk into a store to buy a bottle of any kind of alcoholic substance and it is legal. The contradiction in the law lies in the fact that a 16-year-old may not legally enter a night-club or bar as the law says “18 and up”. The St. Maarten Lions Club’s awareness campaign focuses on the young brain which is only fully developed at age 25. The club also links youth crime and low high-school performance to alcohol use at an early age. In December the club took its campaign to the schools and club members heard from the horse’s mouth how many of our local youngsters between ages 14–18 are regular alcohol users, where regular means once and (usually) more than once weekly. The club wants to see the legal drinking age raised to 21 and will accept an amendment of the law to at least 18 years. “We sent a letter to both the Minister of Justice and the minister of TEATT, as our appeal includes both amendment of the law (TEATT) as well as upholding of the law (Justice), but we have received no response from government as yet. Our next step is to take our petition to the decision-makers of our country and plead our case in person”, says club President Sunny Khatnani.