Date
14 December 2017
With underage drinking becoming a growing problem, Hong Kong is planning new laws on retail outlets. Photo: Bloomberg
With underage drinking becoming a growing problem, Hong Kong is planning new laws on retail outlets. Photo: Bloomberg

Govt unveils legislation to ban alcohol sales to people under 18

The government has unveiled plans for new legislation that would prohibit the sale and supply of alcoholic products to people aged under 18, part of efforts to curb underage drinking.

Under the proposal announced Wednesday, retail outlets are required to put up notices that minors are barred from buying alcoholic products.

If the shops fail to display the sign, they could face a fine of up to HK$25,000. If the outlets are found guilty of selling alcohol to underage people, they will be fined as much as HK$50,000.

Ordering of alcoholic products online, by mail or telephone will also be governed under the new law. The sellers will have to obtain the declaration of age requirements from the buyers before proceeding with the sale. 

The Food & Environmental Hygiene Department said the new legislation will have a deterrent effect and that it would fill the gaps under the existing laws, which only ban the consumption of alcohol by minors at licensed venues but not the sale of such products.

The bills will be gazetted on Friday and submitted to the Legislative Council for approval on June 21.

The Department of Health will be responsible for the formulation of detailed guidelines.

Authorities noted that drinking problems among minors is a growing concern, with one survey suggesting that over 40 percent of primary four to six students and over 60 percent of secondary school students have tried drinking, RTHK reports.

The Hong Kong Bar & Club Association, meanwhile, said the new laws are unfair to bars.

The industry association pointed out that any violation by a bar on the sale of alcohol to minors could result in the revoking of the liquor license, whereas a convenience store would only face much lighter punishment for the same offence, according to Ming Pao Daily.

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