Should the legal age for buying alcohol be raised to 21 years?

John W Toumbourou, Kypros Kypri and Sandra C Jones
Med J Aust 2014; 201 (10): . || doi: 10.5694/mja14.00988
Published online: 17 November 2014

In reply: We disagree with the points raised by Lindo and Siminski. All systematic reviews show harm associated with lowering the purchasing age and reduction in harm from increasing it. We stand by our decision to emphasise findings published in peer-reviewed journals. They cite their non-peer-reviewed New South Wales study to claim that reaching the legal age of 18 years for purchasing alcohol did not increase serious motor vehicle accident risk. However, their comparison to novice drivers aged 17 years is flawed, as inexperienced drivers in their first year are at their highest lifetime risk of vehicle accidents. To support their criticisms of New Zealand research, they cite one non-peer-reviewed report. Our conclusions are based on two independent peer-reviewed studies, supported by additional studies,1 including recent evidence of long-term negative effects of the New Zealand law change2 not confined to traffic injury.3

  • John W Toumbourou1
  • Kypros Kypri2
  • Sandra C Jones3

  • 1 School of Psychology and Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing Research, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC.
  • 2 School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW.
  • 3 Centre for Health and Social Research, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, VIC.

Competing interests:

Relevant disclosures are provided in our original article (Med J Aust 2014; 200: 568-570).


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