Many nations have a legal drinking age, or the minimum age one must be to drink alcohol. In most countries this is 16 or 18; in the US it is 21. Some countries distinguish between drinks with fairly low alcohol-content (such as beer and wine) and stronger spirit-based drinks.
Some people argue that the relatively high US drinking age lowers the risk of accidents and alcohol addiction in younger people. Others argue that if one is old enough to vote and be drafted, one is old enough to drink, and that being introduced to alcohol at a younger age in a family environment means people are more likely to learn responsible drinking habits.
Laws surrounding alcohol vary, but generally, minors are not allowed inside of drinking establishments, are not allowed to purchase alcohol, and are not allowed to drink. In the United Kingdom, children may enter pubs in the company of an adult until 9 PM and 14-year-olds may enter pubs unaccompanied if they order a meal. Some jurisdictions allow minors to drink in the privacy of their own home, with their parents' permission, and others do not.
Proof of age is usually required to enter bars and clubs, or to buy alcoholic beverages in shops. In the United States, this is usually done by showing a driver's license. In New Zealand, multiple forms of identification can be used, including 18 Plus Cards; in the UK, driver's licences, passports, or special "proof of age" cards must be used. In some countries, such as Japan, asking for ID is relatively rare: it is generally assumed that anyone who doesn't look underage, isn't.
Legal drinking age by country
A - D
- Antigua: 16
- Argentina: 18
- Armenia: No minimum age
- Australia: 18
- Austria: 16 (beer and wine) / 18 (spirits) (Exception: Vorarlberg: 16(spirits as well))
- Azerbaijan: No minimum age
- Barbados: 18
- Belgium: 16
- Bermuda: 18
- Brazil: 18
- Bulgaria: Bulgaria has no minimum drinking age. The minimum purchase age is 16.
- Canada: varies from province to province:
- China — see "People's Republic of China" below.
- Chile : 18
- Denmark: Denmark has no minimum drinking age. The minimum purchase ages are 16 (in shops) and 18 (in bars and restaurants)
E - H
I - N
O - V
- People's Republic of China: No minimum age
- Poland: No minimum age (though one must be over 18 to buy alcohol legally)
- Portugal: No minimum drinking age; people under 18 (16 for beer and wine), suffering mental illness or notoriously drunk cannot purchase or obtain alcoholic beverages.
- Republic of Ireland: 18
- Russia: 18
- Slovenia: 18
- Singapore: 18
- South Africa: 18
- Spain: No minimum age
- Sweden: Sweden has no minimum drinking age, instead Swedish law focuses on purchasing ages. At 18 you may buy beer or cider that contains 3.5% alcohol or less in regular stores, and you may also legally drink alcohol of any strength in bars. Outside of bars, drinks with more than 3.5% alcohol can only be purchased in liquor stores where the age limit is 20.
- Switzerland: 14
- Taiwan: 18
- Turkey: 18
- Ukraine: 21
- United Kingdom: 18; 16 for beer or cider in restaurants; 5 in private, with adults
- United States: 21
- Vietnam: No minimum age
Legal issues of tobacco smoking
Philippines - 18