The Australian Medical Association’s call for the minimum drinking age to be lifted to 25 years of age is starting to make it sound like the Mayor Bloomberg fan club. For all of living memory Australians have been bombarded with warnings of dire consequences of foodstuffs, drinks, barbeques, motorbikes, staying out late, beer, spirits, wine, women, and even song, especially rock and roll.
While a number of these have been reversed over the years, and sometimes reinstated again, they were until the rise of the nanny state basically advisory. Since then though, the do-gooders, authoritarians, know-it-alls, assorted food fascists, and fetishists, and behavior zealots have demanded their ‘right’ to make us comply with their ever growing wish lists.
The AMA has long been at the forefront of the ‘Ve haf vays of making you healthy’ brigade, and the current call is not much sillier than usual:
THE legal drinking age should be lifted to 25 to stop young people becoming addicted to alcohol and limit the violence associated with drunkenness, the head of the nation's peak medical organisation says. AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said the human brain was still developing until the age of 25 and alcohol earlier could change a person's addictive potential.
"We know the human brain does not stop developing at 18 or 21 - its actually 25 - so if we start digging out the evidence about when people should be exposed to alcohol it's actually 25 years of age, not 18," he said. The call came as a summit of 70 doctors, academics and public health organisations in Canberra yesterday called for new regulations to control alcohol advertising aimed at young people and ban alcohol sponsorship of sport.The conference was told Tim Tams and chips were being laced with alcohol flavouring, children taking part in life-saving courses were being dressed in hats and towels covered with alcohol labels, and youngsters were becoming "friends" with the Bundy bear and other alcohol websites.
There is nothing wrong with holding an opinion on the age where drinking alcohol is appropriate or safe. It is probably a well-informed view coming from such a body as the AMA, although it has been wrong before, and moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to some beneficial effects.
The problem arises when it goes past advice and becomes lobbying government for prohibition against young adults who are perfectly capable of listening to advice and making their own decisions. No form of prohibition has ever worked as has been witnessed by the attempt in the US in the 20th century, through to the continuing ‘war on drugs’.
The references to ‘alcohol flavored Tim Tams is nebulous at best, although liquor flavored confectionary has been around forever. Nobody has ever gotten pissed on rum and raisin chocolate. As for Bundy Bear, the advertising logo of Bundaberg Rum, he’s a loveable guy, much smarter than the people he mixes with, and is not a threat to the nation’s youth.
If the AMA are seriously contemplating banning the liquor industry from sponsoring the surf lifesavers, they will be doing that group no favors. Should it wish for such a ban, perhaps its members would be good enough to provide the same level of sponsorship as is currently provided by that industry. That is not what they will propose though. They will want the taxpayer to pick up the tab while they self righteously pat themselves on the back.