New Law Would Raise Drinking Age to 21

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JERUSALEM, Israel - At the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, ministers backed legislation that would raise the legal drinking age to 21.

If passed, the bill will ban the sale of alcoholic beverages from convenience stores between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

It also establishes new guidelines for advertisements and bans consumption of alcohol in public places. It would raise the price of alcoholic beverages in supermarkets and convenience stores. 

"According to the WHO [World Health Organization], Israel is second in the world in the consumption of alcohol by eleven year olds and the rate of consumption among 15 to 17 year olds is over 50 percent," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told ministers at Sunday's meeting. "We are at the onset of an epidemic," he said.

Netanyahu said the draft legislation "forbids the consumption of alcohol in public places [and] increases the punishment for anyone selling or providing alcohol to minors."

The prime minister said he expects the Knesset to pass the legislation the Cabinet "will approve."

"We are in need of this legislation promptly. Israel awaits it," he said.

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