Barbados government plans to change legal age of drinking to 18 from 16 years

Barbados: The government of Barbados plans to relocate the legal age of drinking on the island from 16 to 18 years.

Kerrie Symmonds- Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship disclosed in the House of Assembly as he led off the debate on the – Liquor Licences Bill.

Minister Symmonds stated that “The new legislation, which cancels the existing – 1957 Liquor Licences Act, would in addition also increase the legal drinking age, correct a – trilogy of mischiefs considering the supply and sale of intoxicating beverages to the minors.

He added to the statement and cited, “The old legislation did not deal appropriately, in our view, with the selling of intoxicating liquor to the minors, and neither it dealt adequately, from our point of view,- with the issue of aiding and supporting a minor in obtaining or consuming intoxicating alcohol.”

“The third section of the trilogy of mischiefs is – employing minors who are going to be included in the business of the sale of alcohol. The Minister remarked that under the existing legislation, people of 16 years old could do all of the above.”

He further added, “As a result of these changes, amendments would also be made to the – Minor Offences Act and under this new legislation, any of the three types of behaviour would result in the people who commit them, if convicted, incurring a fine of up to – $10 000 and a term of imprisonment of up to five years, or both.”

“So the crimes related to the sale and consumption of the liquor would be embedded with respect to an individual who sells or supplies the liquor to a minor with respect and an individual who assists a minor in obtaining or consuming liquor, and with respect to employing a minor in connection with the sale or supply of liquor.”

“We are through this act resetting the legal age for consuming intoxicating beverages in Barbados from age 16 where it now holds to age 18, where it shall be,” The minister stated.

Minister Symmonds further noted that the age change has long been advocated for by several interest groups and stakeholders in the island, including the insurance industry. Their position, he said, is that it is in the best interest of our young people to have the age raised, and in doing so, Barbados will become consistent with several international countries.