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Doctors call for changes to drinking age

A group of Australian doctors wants to see the legal drinking age increased to combat drunken violence.

In a submission to a senate inquiry into alcohol-fuelled violence, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians wants to see a new minimum purchase age for certain types of alcohol and for all takeaway alcohol.

The submission proposes public consultation on a new minimum purchase age, but has not suggested an age.

The 80-page report also urges governments to consider increasing taxes on alcoholic drinks with higher health risks and using some of the revenue to fund alcohol treatment and harm prevention programs.

"It is imperative that all measures to reduce the harms of alcohol be enabled via a comprehensive national strategy which employs a range of measures to bring about a shift in the Australian drinking culture and a reduction in alcohol-related harms," RACP President Nicholas Talley wrote in a letter to inquiry chairman Glenn Lazarus.

The RACP also wants to see a reduction in the blood alcohol limit for drivers.

Initially the limit would be reduced to 0.02, but the report suggests the Australian and New Zealand governments consider a zero limit for all drivers.

"RACP is calling on the Australian government to show leadership on this issue and urgently adopt and implement the recommendations of our alcohol policy in full," Talley said.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said she would need to look at the proposal carefully before supporting it.

"But there's no question there is significant alcohol-generated harm in our community and we should be working to reduce that harm," she told reporters on Sunday.

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