Wine Cave boss wants age limit raised

23 August, 2007

A wine merchant in North Yorkshire has proposed raising the legal drinking age to 21 to help change the nation's approach to alcohol consumption.

Pascal Watkins, of Wine Cave in Hetton, said changing the legal purchasing age from 18 to 21 in both the on and off-trade would lead to a more mature attitude towards drinking and therefore help boost wine sales.

"We need to get away from a culture of drinking for the sake of drinking and try to create a culture of enjoying it instead, like they do in France, Spain and Italy," he said.

The independent retailer also told OLN such a move would help drinks retailers who were struggling to prevent under-age sales.

He said: "Sixteen-year-olds can pass as 18-year-olds, but there's no way that a 16-year-old could pass as a 21-year-old. It may take 15 years to achieve, but I think it would work."

Watkins' challenge of current importing regulations, which require small businesses to say in advance how much wine they will bring back with them from Europe, has been snubbed by officials.

After receiving a letter from Watkins suggesting that goods were inspected at Customs and duty paid there, Revenue & Customs wrote back to say they would not consider changing the law.

Watkins said: "It said we are no different to any other country in Europe and that those are the terms and that's that."

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