New law in Spain will see parents of underage drinkers fined

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Report from the Mixed Committee on Drug Problems will serve as the basis for future regulations covering alcohol, and has now been passed on to the Spanish Health Ministry.

A congressional committee has recommended new measures to combat the problem of underage drinking on Spanish streets – a practice commonly known as botellón (literally, “big bottle”). The report from the Mixed Committee on Drug Problems will serve as the basis for a future law covering alcohol, and has now been passed on to the Spanish Health Ministry.

The document proposes that the future law include a system of fines for underage drinkers and for their families. According to the document, these penalties should “reinforce already-existing punitive mechanisms and be geared toward education.” If, however, parents are negligent and there is “evident risk to the minor,” the existing laws for the protection of minors should be applied.

According to the document, minors and their parents could choose to take part in educational activities instead of paying a fine

But Tania Sánchez, from the anti-austerity party Podemos, said parents shouldn’t be punished solely and has proposed family counselling to address the problem of alcohol consumption.

According to the document, minors and their parents could choose to take part in educational activities instead of paying a fine. These activities should make clear the gravity of underage drinking and include measures in case of relapse, the report says.

For this program to work, the committee writes that the government must make sure it has the necessary financial, legislative and staff resources – not only to manage the sanctions but also to prevent infractions and consider alternative punishments.

The report says the government needs to tighten control on premises licensed to sell alcohol, restrict buying times and increase sanctions on those who break the law. Among its recommendations, the committee suggests shutting down outlets known to repeatedly sell alcohol to minors and imposing community service and tougher sanctions to stop people drinking in the street.

The entire alcohol industry supports the report because it is about the “health of minors and demands from parents and the education community”

The report also proposes that alcohol taxes be used to fund preventive measures against underage drinking and its health effects on minors. According to the head of the committee, Carmen Quintanilla, the entire alcohol industry supports the report because it is about the “health of minors and demands from parents and the education community.”

The report, approved yesterday by every parliamentary group with abstentions from the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), also suggests healthcare professionals register when a minor has been admitted for alcohol abuse. Leaving a record in a minor’s medical history, it says, will help early intervention efforts to prevent addiction and facilitate treatment in the case of drug abuse.

Quintanilla called the document a “great historic achievement” and said it will help define a future law that will put an end to the 6,000 cases of minors who end up in a coma every year due to excessive alcohol consumption.