Legal Drinking Age Should be Revisited, says Medical Research Council


After the suspension on alcohol sales announced on Sunday, the Medical Research Council suggested to Parliament’s Health Committee that raising the legal drinking age to 21 years should be revisited.

There is widespread agreement that the prohibition of alcohol isn’t a long-term solution to relieving pressure on South Africa’s healthcare system.

This is according to the Medical Research Council, which is predicting the current ban on alcohol sales could last at least eight weeks.

The council predicts that the current suspension on alcohol sales could last for at least eight weeks, freeing up almost 18,000 beds in the country’s general wards and around 13,000 beds in ICU.

However, the council says while the benefits can’t be disputed, it agrees that an indefinite booze ban is unsustainable.

Talking to eNCA, Professor Charles Parry said, “I’m not sure we can push the whole thing back into a bottle and go back to prohibition, I think we need to look at having a more responsible, better-regulated system,”

Under alert level 3, the council presented alternatives to government, these include reducing the number of sale days to three, limiting the quantities purchased and reducing the production capacity of the liquor industry.

The MRC says as a longer-term precaution, the government should consider raising the legal drinking age and the unit price of alcohol.