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'Raising Spain's drinking age to 21 is absurd'

Alex Dunham · 3 Apr 2014, 15:29

Published: 03 Apr 2014 15:29 GMT+02:00

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Spain's underage drinking problem has been brought to the table by Joaquín Villanova, Popular Party spokesperson, who argues upping the drinking age from 18 to 21 will lessen the effects of alcohol on young people.

"Scientists say a person’s brain hasn’t matured until that age (21)," Villanova said.

But leading health experts have rejected his US-style proposal as official data from Spain's Foundation Against Drug Addiction (FAD) shows young Spaniards start drinking at an average age of 13.

"(This proposal) is all about image," FAD president Ignacio Calderón told Spanish daily El Mundo.

"Will it really stop teenagers from drinking? Politicians aren't living in the real world."

"We should realize that just enforcing a law won't fix anything, (it's more important) to take a close look at (Spain's) nightlife."

READ ALSO: Why do Spaniards love cocaine so much?

Calderón does acknowledge that the emergence of "speed drinking", a "northern European trend" rubbing off on young Spaniards, can have serious health consequences.

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"Youngsters are no longer drinking in the Mediterranean way: smaller amounts over a longer period of time," he recognized.

"They're drinking like in northern Europe and that’s having a very negative effect on their brains."

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Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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