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Spain: Bill on Alcohol Consumption to Punish Parents for Their Underage Children’s Drinking

(May 1, 2018) A report prepared by a committee composed of members of Spain’s Congress of Deputies (lower legislative chamber) and Senate (upper legislative chamber) recommends that Spain enact laws punishing parents for their underage children’s drinking. The penalties to be imposed on both children and parents would reinforce current sanctions and promote prevention of underage drinking through education and counselling. Sanctions would include fines for which educational activities could be substituted. Recidivism would be considered when determining sanctions. The report, which was approved by the Joint Committee for the Study of the Drug Problem on April 23, 2018, will now be reviewed by the Ministry of Health, which will work on a final bill to submit to Congress. (Miquel Alberola, Los padres de menores que beban alcohol podrán ser sancionados, EL PAÍS (Apr. 24, 2018).)

The proposed legislation includes education, social, and health measures supported by the majority of the political parties represented on the Committee with the goal of preventing the thousands of ethylic comas in minors recorded annually. (Id.)

One of the measures proposed is to set a zero level of alcohol in minors riding motorcycles and a prohibition on websites or public figures advertising alcohol. (Luz Verde del Congreso a las Bases de la Ley del Alcohol que Quiere Acabar con el Botellón, PUBLICO.ES (Apr. 24, 2018).)

The report also proposes a health protocol applicable to minors who are checked into a health care center for alcohol use that includes recording such admissions in health records, which will also be crossed with other government information databases in order to detect addictive alcohol abuse early and facilitate its treatment. (Alberola, supra.)

Another measure included in the report is the application of alcohol tax revenues to the prevention and treatment of underage drinking (Id.)

According to Committee president Carmen Quintanilla, the alcoholic beverage industry supports the bill because it involves the protection of minors’ health and responds to a demand from parents and the educational community at large. (Id.)

The report also recommends strengthening the control of alcohol sale points, restricting the hours of alcohol sale, and increasing the penalties for violations. It further suggests that community service or rehabilitation measures could be imposed in lieu of sanctions. (Id.)