Underage drinking a growing concern

Under aged consumption of alcohol has been an ongoing issue. Recently it has gotten out of hand with clubs being filled with minors every weekend.

In Saturday’s (1st June 2019) issue of the Daily Post, a father who resides at Freshwota 4 spoke about his concerns towards underaged drinking and made a call to the authorities to enforce a law stating that all patrons show their national ID cards as a proof of age upon entry.

He reported that his 18-year-old daughter went out clubbing with two 14-year-old friends of hers. He had learnt about the incident when other patrons confirmed this to the father of one of the 14-year olds, who then belted his daughter in anger.

According to a few regular nightclub customers, several clubs, including Voodoo Bar seem to host a lot of under aged drunks every weekend. However Voodoo Bar co-owner Nitya Nand, explained that his staff always check the customers at the entrance and refuse entry to anyone who is underaged.

Mr Nand said there is no current law in place stating that all nightclubs check patron’s ID at the door, however he supports the idea of compulsory checks and would happily enforce them should the government make it a law.

Joe Tamata, General Manager of the Moorings Hotel which serves alcoholic beverages also told the 96 Buzz FM’s Coffee and Controversy team that he supports the idea and would be more than happy if a law of such came into effect.

Mr Tamata spoke against underage drinking and mentioned that his staff always try to find out about the age of patrons when they approach the bar to buy drinks. If ever they suspect them of being under 18, the refuse to serve them.

As Ni Vanuatu, we are really quick to blame others and ask where chiefs, police and church leaders are when we see issues such as under age drinking get out of hand.

The General Manager, said even though his staff are very cautious when serving alcoholic beverages, it is the sole responsibility of parents to know of the whereabouts of their children at all times since it is, they who brought these kids into the world.

Apart from parental responsibility he also mentioned that his establishment, like other similar establishments which serve alcoholic beverages have a duty of care and would be could be held responsible should any accident happen to any patrons within the vicinity.

Therefore, he assures that his staff will continue to refuse to sell alcohol to anyone whom they see as over intoxicated.

Another issue is that at times there would be those who come in with minors being friends, younger siblings and in some extreme cases their own and believe it is fine to buy alcoholic drinks for them.

Mr Tamata strongly opposes this type of attitude and his staff will not put up with it, therefore if any staff see this happening, they will not serve alcohol to the irresponsible adult.

Paragraph 1 under chapter 17 of the Liquor Licensing Act [CAP 52 of 1969], clearly states that any person who, being under the age of 18 years, procures, consumes, or without lawful excuse, the proof whereof shall lie upon him, possesses any alcoholic liquor, commits an offence punishable on conviction by a fine not exceeding VT10,000.

Paragraph 2 says that any person who sells or supplies alcoholic liquor to any other person, who by virtue of the provision of subsection (1) may not lawfully procure such liquor commits an offence punishable on conviction by a fine not exceeding VT25,000 or by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 months or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Mr Tamata confirmed that the police or other relevant authorities have never inspected the premises to make sure no drinks were served to minors, however if they ever decide to do random checks, he and his staff are more than happy to cooperate with them in order to uphold law and order.

Sources within the police say, no arrests have been made towards anyone breaking the above laws since the beginning of this year.

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