Health minister rejects proposal to ban sale of alcohol in night shops

Summary

Maggie De Block’s coalition partners have criticised her refusal to accept the proposed ban, calling for an integrated approach in tackling alcohol abuse

‘Measure goes too far’

Federal health minister Maggie De Block has refused to accept a proposed ban on the sale of alcohol in service stations and night shops. Proponents of the measure argue it would make an important contribution to reducing alcohol abuse among young people.

“Such a measure goes too far, I think,” De Block (Open VLD) said in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws at the weekend. “I’ve no wish to see more bankruptcies. I’m also not sure why we have to ban alcohol in night shops. It’s handy for people who have no alcohol problem at all to be able to buy something to drink late in the evening.”

Government coalition partner CD&V, which supports the proposed ban, called De Block’s comments “scandalous and irresponsible”.

“If we are to tackle the problem of alcohol abuse properly, we need to have an integrated approach,” said Nathalie Muylle, the party’s spokesperson on alcohol policy. “That means efforts at prevention and control, but also limiting availability. All the specialists agree.”

Open VLD president Gwendolyn Rutten later told VTM News: “We have to address abuse together. But we mustn’t punish everyone who drinks a beer now and again. There’s a balance we have to find.”

Photo courtesy groenkampenhout.files.wordpress.com