MP Lake backs calls to raise drinking age for young people from 16 to 18 years of age

United People’s (UP) party Member of Parliament (MP) Hon. Maurice Lake is in full support of raising the drinking age and commends the St. Maarten Lions Club for its initiative to see the age limit raised as well as Teen Times with respect to their recent survey on the issue which underscored that the majority of people is in favour of raising the age limit.

Lake also stated that he did some research about the minimum legal drinking age and how this varies around the world. The St. Maarten Lions Club which as a civic organization has youth alcohol abuse as one of their main topics for 2015. Teen Times in recently published a survey it conducted on the issue and publicly supports the Lions in its efforts.

“The majority of countries have set the drinking age at 18.  There was a big debate on lowering the drinking age from 21 on CBS News where the Universities and some organizations feel it is not working and forcing a lot of teenagers to find ways to circumnavigate the law by going underground in basements and seeking alcohol from the black market.

“I believe we should set the drinking age based on our culture and taking the young people’s input into consideration.  Teen Times has been the voice of the young people for many years.  The youth of Sint Maarten can use Teen Times to voice their opinions about community ills and/or approval of any topic.  I have to commend Micheal Granger, Teen Times Coordinator and his team for doing a great job with the youths of this country so almost two decades,” MP Maurice Lake said on Tuesday.

“As an MP, I wanted to know for a fact if a supermarket would sell a young underage person alcohol. A young individual that I know went to the store and they did sell him the alcohol.  About two weeks ago, I observed three under age students walking through Ebenezer with a beer in their hands like if it is the norm and just playing macho,” the MP said.

To prove a point, Teen Times writers also wanted to show the public how easy it is for minor to purchase alcohol. Two of the young writers went into a store, purchased hard alcohol without being questioned by store attendants. The writers and their photographer captured the exchange and published it in a recent issue.

“The point I wanted to make is we need to do a better control and re-enforce existing laws where it concerns the selling of alcohol to minors. As Teen Times stated in their report, why do authorities allow clubs to permit entrance to minors without controlling these clubs.

“It should be a collective responsibility of the parents, community in general, Police, Community Councils, schools and Council of Churches in dealing with this matter.  We need to get back to basics on how our parents brought us up and a community raising a child.

“I know we live in different times, but the principles and morals are the same.  We might not control everything but we can contain the underage drinking by educating the public, the business establishments that sell alcohol, and youngsters about underage drinking and about respecting the law.

“I support the survey from Teen Times with the majority based on the snap online survey via Facebook using Teen Times page (with 5,000 friends) who want the legal drinking age raised from 16 to 18 years.  I believe that at 18, one is more responsible for his/her actions, and are fully aware of the consequences of their actions. So, if we want to get serious about the current drinking age, we need to get serious about enforcement as well,” MP Maurice Lake concluded.