2001. This was the year in which there was talk (and promise) of a law against the consumption of alcohol by minors, the legal drug (in the words of the Ministry of Health) most consumed by teenagers. The first to announce it was the then Minister of the Interior, Mariano Rajoy, and then the rest of the Health Ministers who preceded that government that began the 21st century.
The last attempt was that of María Luisa Carcedo, the minister who managed to draw up a text, endorsed by the medical and scientific societies, but which, once again, remained in a drawer. Her predecessor, Carolina Darias, promised in 2021 to bring her to Parliament, but left without doing so. In 2022, Sanitat started the public consultation procedure prior to the preparation of the text, something that was already done in 2018 with Carcedo. But Darias defended himself in the fact that, due to the time that had passed, it was advisable to "open a new consultation period". The reality? That the legislature ended without the law that is supposed to protect minors who, according to numerous studies, start consuming alcohol at a very early age, despite the ban on purchasing this product before the age of 18: the occasional consumption begins at the age of 14 on average, and the most usual and weekly consumption at the age of 15.2.
And despite the fact that the scientific evidence (assumed point by point by the Ministry of Health) points out that teenagers are very vulnerable to alcohol "because they are in stages of development", with conditions in the liver, pancreas and brain, and because " it interferes with the maturational development of the central nervous system". In addition, they appeal to "psychosocial damage" such as "worse academic performance", possible "family conflicts" and "cause of accidents".
All these data were heard for months from the mouths of the experts who appeared in the joint Congress-Senate commission against drugs and which were later collected in the report Minors without Alcohol, presided over by the then Popular Deputy Carmen Quintanilla.
What did this text propose? It focused on more intensive surveillance of points of sale, especially in small shops where the identity of the buyer is not checked. It was being studied to increase the penalties for the owners and the closure of the establishment in the case of recidivism. This is why more collaboration from the different administrations and more local support is needed, according to the report.
Another measure was to reach agreements with the industry to reduce the price of non-alcoholic beverages, currently comparable to alcoholic beverages. And change the mandatory advertising message of "moderate consumption" or "it's your responsibility" to "minors, not a drop" and "zero tolerance for minors".
Also, limit the advertising, promotion and sale of alcoholic beverages, especially those referring to offers that induce abusive consumption (also in adults), such as the open bar, happy hour, 2x1 or the like (there are countless of versions).
More inspections, more training (especially for hospitality professionals), more education for boys, more alternative programs... With what resources? The joint commission on drugs was clear: allocating part of what is collected from excise taxes.
We will have to wait for another new legislature to find out if this law will, in the end, be a reality.