Mulling over the legal drinking age in Scotland

When news recently broke out on the internet that underage alcohol drinking-related deaths and accidents have seen an uptrend in Scotland over the last decade, it raised alarm bells among many sectors.

Ranking government leaders lost no time in voicing out their support to uphold what has long been a topic of discussion – raising the legal drinking age in Scotland (as far as off-sale purchases are concerned) from 18 to 21. This has drawn flak from certain quarters like college students and groups like the Coalition Against Raising the Drinking Age in Scotland (CARDAS). Raising the legal drinking age in Scotland, the coalition maintained, is not the effective method to address core issues leading to alcohol misuse. It batted, instead, for alternative ways to motivate responsible drinking among Scotland’s emerging adults.

Student survey results echo the sentiments of many of today’s youth – that they can draw a line between minimal-to-moderate alcohol consumption serving as relaxation & socialization tool, and overindulgence leading to abuse & mishaps.

Under the United Kingdom’s laws, young Scots aged 16 years and above may actually take beer, cider, or wine in a pub, along with their meals, but a supervising adult must be at hand. Officially, though, the legal drinking age in Scotland in the proper premises is 18 years. It is therefore not surprising to find 18-year-olds enjoying drinks in a lively campus pub, or 16-year-olds with family members enjoying alcoholic beverages along with their food, or even individuals who look older than their years (but are below 16). Most Scots are known to be fond of going out, having a good time, and sharing drinking moments with friends and family, which accounts for the howls of protest on their government’s plans to raise the legal purchasing and drinking age to 21.