Don’t make alcohol so conveniently available

CAP views with concern the comments by the executive director, Ng Su Onn, that consumers wishing to buy liquor at 7-Eleven outlets may be required to show their identity cards. We do not expect any real enforcement of this ruling when none has been apparent before.

The staff manning the counters at these convenience stores are themselves usually quite young and we do not see them implementing this “show IC” rule on their customers.

Not to mention that, in the first place, we question the wisdom of allowing liquor to be sold in convenience stores and shops in residential areas.

Alcohol-related harm is already well-known – potentially affecting the health of drinkers personally, while being implicated in incidents of road accidents, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, murder, poverty, absenteeism, broken homes, lowered productivity and other adverse social and economic effects.

More than 2 million people around the world die each year from alcohol-related causes. The harmful use of alcohol is a leading risk factor for premature death and disability globally.

CAP calls on the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, to work together to halt the sales of alcohol in general areas where children and families are present. This would include convenience stores like 7-Eleven, sundry or grocery shops in residential areas and family eating places.

The sale of alcohol could be limited to just a few dedicated liquor shops which are located away from residential areas and family recreation areas.

In the meantime, in view of the potentially serious adverse health, social and economic effects, the Government could also seriously consider raising the minimum age limit for allowing purchase and use of alcohol to 21 years.