Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The Age of Consent?

I'm not at all convinced that the Scottish Government's plans to raise the age for off-sales to 21 will have much of an effect. However, I'm glad that the SNP supported the Government's plans at their conference becasue I think we have go to the stage where we have to try things, even if there is not much evidence to suggest they will work.

I know that Ministers point to the trials in Falkirk, West Lothian and Fife but it seems these were very focussed and rigorously enforced in a way that a national rollout never could be. That doesn't mean to say that it won't work, of course.

Some of the arguments against the proposals are disingenuous - particularly the ones about ageism and age anomolies. Society is full of similar situations already:
  • you can marry and have kids at 16 but you can't buy a drink to celebrate either until you are 18
  • you can legally have sex when you're 16 but you can't watch a porno movie until you're 18
  • you can drive a car at 17 but you can't buy one on credit until you're 18

I'm sure there are plenty more examples.

I hope the plans are allowed to proceed and we can see if they have any impact. At the end of the day we are in the hands of responsible retailers. Maybe there is an arguement for the Swedish model where off-sales are only allowed through government run outlets?

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