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Government proposes to amend law to prohibit sale and supply of intoxicating liquor to minors
     The Government proposes to amend the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance (Chapter 109) and the Dutiable Commodities (Liquor) Regulations (Chapter 109B) to regulate the sale and supply of intoxicating liquor to persons under the age of 18 years in the course of business, with a view to safeguarding the health and well-being of minors.

     The concerned amendment bill has the following main suggestions:
  • restricting the sale of intoxicating liquor from vending machines; an offender would be liable to a fine at Level 5 (i.e. $50,000);
  • prohibiting the sale or supply of intoxicating liquor to minors in the course of business; an offender would be liable to a fine at Level 5;
  • imposing a requirement to display a sign containing the prescribed notice on the prohibition of sale or supply of intoxicating liquor to minors at the place of sale or supply in face-to-face distribution; an offender would be liable to a fine at Level 4 (i.e. $25,000);
  • imposing requirements to include the prescribed notice and to receive a declaration of age from the purchaser or recipient for remote distribution; an offender would liable to a fine at Level 4; and
  • the Secretary for Food and Health be given the authority to appoint public officers of the Department of Health (DH) to carry out enforcement actions.

     A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said today (June 7), "There is no prohibition on the sale or supply of intoxicating liquor to minors in licensed premises; in non-licensed premises such as liquor stores, convenience stores and supermarkets; and through remote means such as on the Internet, over the phone and by mail. For the overall well-being of minors, we consider it necessary to amend the law. The proposed penalty level is believed to have the desired deterrent effect and commensurate with the seriousness of offences. To facilitate compliance of the trade under the proposed regulatory regime, the DH will prepare detailed guidelines.

     "In addition, to further appeal for public action to protect minors from alcohol-related harm, the DH has been stepping up publicity activity in the 2016-17 school year by launching a series of territory-wide activities against harmful use of alcohol through a thematic website, seminars for schools and parents, meetings with school heads, and dissemination of age-specific educational materials including pamphlets and posters targeting young people and their parents. The DH will continue to seek support from the school community in fuelling the anti-alcohol drive to work for the 'Young and Alcohol Free' vision."

     The Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2017 will be gazetted on June 9 and introduced into the Legislative Council on June 21.
Ends/Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:15
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