The Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) is the minimum age at which a person is legally allowed to handle or consume alcoholic drinks. The laws on MLDA cover a wide range of issues including when and where alcohol can be consumed and vary from country to country. The majority of the countries have set MLDA at 18 or 19 years. The United States (except Puerto Rico and Virginia’s Island) and 19 other countries, especially Asian countries, have the highest set MLDA. However, some areas in India have drinking ages as high as 25-30 years. In some countries, especially Muslim countries, alcohol is completely banned, with an exception sometimes made for non-Muslims.
Overview of Minimum Drinking Age Around the World
Youngest Drinking Age
Although the majority of the countries around the world have set the MLDA at 18 years, 16 years is considered the youngest drinking age. At least eight countries and regions have set their MLDA at 16 years. These countries include Barbados, the British Virginia Islands, Cuba, Luxembourg, Panama, Serbia, Serbia, and Zimbabwe. In these countries, it is an offense for anyone to sell, give, or offer alcoholic drinks to people under the age of 16 years. However, in Zimbabwe, a person is allowed to sell or supply alcoholic drinks to children under 16 years upon the proof of a written document signed by parents or guardians of the minor known to the person selling the alcohol.
Drinking Age in Italy
Italy has set a minimum legal drinking age at 16 years, one of the lowest MLDA in the world. In 2002, Renato Balduzzi, the then Health Minister proposed to raise the minimum drinking age to 18 years. However, selling alcoholic drinks to children under the age of 18 years in premises is considered illegal and attracts a fine of €250 to €1000. Giving alcohol to those under 16 years is considered a crime and is punishable by up to one-year imprisonment. Despite the regulations, many minors enjoy alcoholic drinks, especially in the company of their parents and during social events.
Drinking Age in Russia
Most Russians are of the opinion that the minimum drinking age in the country is 18 years. However, there are no laws or regulations prohibiting minors from taking alcoholic drinks. On the contrary, selling alcohol to persons under the age of 18 years is prohibited by federal and regional laws and may attract fines and even jail terms.
Why Minimum Legal Drinking Age?
Several reasons have been given for the laws and regulations behind the minimum legal drinking age. For some people, introducing minors to alcohol interferes with their normal expected activities such as studies. Alcohol may also influence their behaviors. However, the commonly known reason for banning minors from taking alcohol until they attain a certain age is the effect of alcohol as on the brain in adolescents. Since their brains are still maturing, alcohol may have a negative effect on their memories and long-term thinking. Alcohol may also cause complications such as liver failure and hormonal imbalance in minors due to the constant changes in their bodies as they mature, especially during puberty.
Drinking Ages Around the World
|Angola||No Drinking Age|
|Anguilla||No Drinking Age|
|Antigua and Barbuda||No Drinking Age|
|Bahrain||No Drinking Age|
|Bosnia and Herzevogina||18|
|British Virgin Islands||16|
|Cambodia||No Drinking Age|
|Central African Republic||15*|
|Equatorial Guinea 21|
|Guinea-Bissau||No Drinking Age|
|Kosovo||No Drinking Age|
|Macau||No Drinking Age|
|Northern Mariana Islands||21|
|Papua New Guinea||18|
|Republic of the Congo||18|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||16|
|Saudi Arabia||Alcohol Prohibited|
|Togo||No Drinking Age|
|Trindad and Tobago||18|
|Tunisia||No Drinking Age|
|Turk and Caicos Islands||18|
|United Arab Emirates||18*|
|Western Sahara||No Drinking Age|