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Spain to fine parents of teen binge drinkers

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Spain to fine parents of teen binge drinkers
Spanish authorities may reduce the penalty if the alcohol sold illegally is beer or wine rather than more damaging spirits like rum or whisky. Photo: Jose Luis Roca/AFP
15:41 CEST+02:00
The Spanish government has presented an anti-alcoholism draft bill which would impose €300 ($430) fines on the parents of under-18s who knowingly allow their children to get drunk.

The fines on parents or guardians are part of a larger plan by Spain’s Health Ministry which looks at cracking down on binge drinking among young people.

The trend has been nicknamed 'the Nordic model', in reference to the alleged speed-drinking habits of Brits, Germans and other nationalities in northern Europe, which differ from the traditional Spanish way of drinking while eating.

"The idea of fining the parents of young people who drink is not a bad one. It would make parents more aware of the problem and they could take more responsibility for their children because of a fear of being fined," María Rodríguez Renovales, spokesperson for Spain's anti-drug abuse foundation FAD told The Local.

But Renovales said the chief problem was policing the measure. 

"We already have — for example — laws against 'botellones' (large outdoor drinking parties) in Spain, but these continue to go ahead."

The FAD spokesperson described the latest draft of Spain's alcohol law as "brave and ambitious" and gave it full marks for taking a "zero tolerance" attitude to underage drinking.

But she also said it was unlikely the draft would pass in its present form. This was the third draft of the new law, she said, and had been changed again after pressure from powerful lobby groups in the alcohol and hospitality sectors. 

The draft law sets out the largest penalties for supermarkets, nightclubs and bars caught selling alcohol to minors: they could be slapped with a staggering €600,000 fine.

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Spanish authorities may however reduce the penalty if the alcohol sold illegally is beer or wine rather than more damaging spirits like rum or whisky.

According to data by Spain’s Health Ministry, up to 62 percent of minors aged 14 to 18 have taken part in a botellón in the last 12 months, an alcohol-fuelled social gathering popular in Spain where cheap spirits are mixed with fizzy drinks.

If the law is finally passed, Spain’s government will also ban alcohol advertisements within 100 metres (330 feet) of schools and is also contemplating preventing consumption near places where children and teens are often found, such as public swimming pools or parks.

READ MORE: 'Letting teens get drunk at home is child abuse'

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