Cabinet okays alcohol restrictions bill

Cabinet discusses restri

The cabinet on Sunday voted to support several bills and amendments restricting the sale and consumption of alcohol. According to one of the proposals, the sale of alcohol to persons under the age of 21 would be forbidden, as well as the sale of alcoholic beverages after 11 p.m. Pubs, clubs and restaurants would be allowed to continue night-time sales, since they serve alcoholic beverages that are consumed on the spot. The law would also see consumption of alcohol in public places banned. Police would have the power to seize alcohol being consumed in public and pour out the contents of bottles. Licenses to sell alcoholic beverages would also be restricted to designated shops. Establishments that violate the new provisions could be closed for 30 days. The current law prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors would be expanded to outlaw the "provision" of alcohol to minors, in a bid to tackle the practice of minors asking adults to buy intoxicating drinks on their behalf. At the beginning of the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the initiative was part of a national "war on alcoholism," and called on the Knesset to pass the legislation. "According to the World Health Organization, Israel is second in the world in consumption of alcohol by 11 year-olds, and the rate of consumption among 15-to-17-year-olds is over 50%," the prime minister went on. "We are at the onset of an epidemic. "We are in need of this legislation promptly. Israel awaits it," he concluded. Data released recently by the Public Security Ministry ranked Israel as second in Europe for alcohol abuse by 11-year-olds. Some 19 percent of boys and 8% of girls aged 11 who were surveyed by the Anti-Drug Authority said they drank alcohol at least once a week. Referencing WHO figures, only Ukraine had higher levels of drinking among that age group. According to the Anti-Drug Authority's figures, 32.6% of 12-to-18-year-olds have gotten drunk at least once in the past year - a rise of 7.6% from three years ago. Among 18-to-21-year-olds, 63.8% said they were drunk at least once this year, and 61.3% said they consumed at least five units of alcohol over the past month. Of the 40 countries in Europe researched by the WHO, Israelis aged 13 came in 15th place for alcohol abuse, while the nation's 15-year-olds came in 32nd place. Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.