Teen drunk clampdown: senators back rise in beer-buying age to 18

The upper house of parliament on Tuesday voted in favour of new legislation which will increase the age at which teenagers can buy alcohol from 16 to 18.

Currently, 16 and 17-year-olds are allowed to buy beer, wine and pre-mixed cocktails.

The aim of the age rise is to try to combat teenage binge drinking. Dutch teenagers are fairly heavy drinkers in European terms and in 2011, 762 young teenagers ended up in hospital after drinking too much.

Criminal offence

Young teenagers will also be committing a criminal offence if they are found to be in possession of alcohol in a public place.

MPs from the anti-immigration PVV and the D66 Liberal democrats voted against the change. The PVV says the new rules are purely symbolic while D66 says the issue should be left up to teenagers and their parents.

The government is also planning to increase the age at which teenagers can buy cigarettes from 16 to 18. Both changes will come into effect on January 1, 2014 and will be preceded by a major advertising campaign.

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