|'Botellona' mass drinking, Spain|
SPAIN Health Minister Ana Mato announced recently that her ministry is preparing a law aimed at lowering alcohol use by the under-aged. Among other measures, the draft bill seeks to ban advertising aimed 'directly or indirectly' at minors. "We're going to clarify the limits available to alcoholic beverage advertising, eliminating ads and campaigns directed at the under age population, as well as advertising that is uploaded to media that has no age control," said the minister in answer to a parliamentary question. The draft of a so-called Ley de Prevención del Consumo de Bebidas Alcohólicas en Menores de Edad y sus Efectos (Prevention of Consumption of Alcohol by Minors and its Effects) will also increase control on and sanctions against establishments selling alcohol to minors. This will include closer control of discotheques, which allow under-18s access and thus to drink.>>>
The law is expected to be approved before the beginning of summer and is due to be followed by a campaign against underage drinking on social media, as well as aiming educational material at schools and families.
Mato also pointed out that there is no national, state legislation on this subject, the matter has always been left to the regional authorities and therefore there is very little coordination among them. This, she added, is something she will be trying for with the new law, which she will attempt to do 'with maximum consensus'.
"There is little doubt that we have a problem," said Minister Mato, referring to the latest statistics on drug and alcohol use among secondary school students. This concludes that the average age to begin drinking is 13.7 years. By the age of 16, 8 out of ten students have used alcohol.
"There is decidedly bad perception of the risks involved in underage drinking," Mato continued, concluding that "more than half of the students believe that taking five or six ['Spanish measure' spirits] over a weekend has no consequences.