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Hot Topic (1/25): Should the drinking age be lowered to 18?

Posted by on Jan. 25, 2010 at 2:13 AM
  • 37 Replies

 

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Question: Should the drinking age be lowered to 18?

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Yes.

No.


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Total Votes: 47

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Drinking age debate on tap again in Vermont

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Appealing to Vermont's independent streak, the former president of Middlebury College said Thursday the state is an ideal place to try returning the legal drinking age to 18.

John McCardell, who also founded the nonprofit Choose Responsibility, told lawmakers at a Statehouse hearing that a federal law that withholds highway funding from states that don't abide by a drinking age minimum of 21 has stifled debate on a worthy idea. But Mothers Against Drunk Driving argues that such a change would put thousands of lives in danger.

The 1984 enactment of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act required states to raise the age to 21 or risk losing federal transportation money. South Dakota was the last state to comply, in 1988.

Vermont lawmakers are considering a pair of bills - one to push the drinking age to 18, the other to ask the state's congressional delegation to urge Congress to authorize waivers to states and not punish them by withholding funding.

Under the current law, states that don't maintain the 21-year-old minimum risk losing 10 percent of their annual federal transportation funding. In Vermont, that works out to about $17.5 million, according to John Zicconi, a spokesman for the Vermont Agency of Transportation

McCardell argues that the higher age encourages unsafe drinking by driving young people into locked dorm rooms, off-campus apartments and farm fields to do their consuming.

"We can either try to change the reality, which has been our attempt since 1984, and which, as is always the case in times of prohibition, has simply failed. Or we can, through enlightened public policy, create the safest possible environment for the reality," he told a legislative committee.

But Johns Hopkins professor David Jernigan told members of the House General Housing and Military Affairs committee that lowering the drinking age would result in young people experimenting with alcohol at an earlier age than they do now. Whatever problems the 21 minimum hasn't addressed should be handled with education, increased taxes on alcohol and more study, not by lowering the minimum, he said.

Scientists, he said, know more about the makeup of the adolescent brain than they did when the law was enacted, namely that the part of the brain that exercises judgment develops substantially later than the part that seeks out reward and risk.

Young people who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol-dependent as adults than those who wait until they're 21, he said.

Jernigan said research has showed the higher minimum has cut sharply drinking by teenagers and young adults but hasn't been as effective in curbing drinking by college students.

Lowering the drinking age? Not a good idea, he said.

"It's kind of like putting a fence around a swimming pool. People are still going to jump the fence. Does that mean it doesn't make sense to have a fence? I would argue no," Jernigan said.

McCardell said barring young people from drinking through their teenage years and then allowing them to do so at 21 is like not training a young person how to drive a car and then giving them the keys once they're old enough, without training.

State Rep. John Moran said he opposes a lower drinking age but believes the decision should be Vermont's, not Washington's.

"We don't want the federal government to tell the state of Vermont. This is an issue the state of Vermont should be discussing, as we've done today," said Moran, D-Wardsboro.

* * *

Your thoughts?

What are the advantages of lowering the drinking age?

What are the disadvantages?

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by on Jan. 25, 2010 at 2:13 AM
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Replies (1-10):
steph2884
by on Jan. 25, 2010 at 3:03 AM

They should just leave it where it is. Could you imagine turning 18 in high school and being able to buy alcohol? Most 18 year olds don't have common sense when it comes to these things, nor do most 21 year olds... if you've ever been on a college campus you know what I'm talking about! They would have parties at their houses and invite all their underaged friends there. I know they do it anyway... so why make it legal? I think there are more important things to be discussed in legislation than the legal drinking age. While they are tying themselves up with this... more important things could be brought to the table. I think it's just a waste of time, personally. Why is it so important to lower the age? It won't change anything. The kids that want to drink will do it anyway, so why make it easier for an 18 year old to buy liqour for all their underage high school friends??

steph2884
by on Jan. 25, 2010 at 3:15 AM

I also don't think there are any advantages to it. Not like alcohol has real good health benefits, except the glass of wine. Beer... other alcoholic drinks... pack so many carbs and calories that it is more of a health risk! So since America is jumping on the bandwagon of blaming the fast food industry and the soda industry for people being fat, why not go after Budwiser??? The comment about not letting teenagers drink until their 21 is like not training them on how to drive a car and giving them the keys is a bunch of BULL S****!!! So we need to train our teenagers how to play beer pong?? How ridiculously stupid.We can teach our kids how to be responsible adults without making them drink.Same thing goes for sex. You can teach responsibility without being in the room during their first time telling them if they're putting on the condom right!! And I know there are other countries out there with lower legal drinking ages... but look at their culture! Totally different than American culture.

LuvNMyBbs
by Bronze Member on Jan. 25, 2010 at 4:57 AM

I say lower it.  If we will allow an 18 year old to enter into contracts, join the military, and get married then why don't we allow them to drink?  I think that if we expect them to be grown up enough to move out at that age and do all of these other things we are sending a dangerous message about alcohol.  I think people under 21 but over 18 have a stronger chance of things like binge drinking because it is illegal.  I also believe that after 16 I should be able to allow my son to drink alcohol in my presence.  Obviously I won't be getting my son puking drunk but allowing him to experience these things in moderation allows me to teach him the responsibility necessary to use them.  Before I was on medication that I can not drink with I had the occasional glass of wine with dinner.  Doesn't allowing these things at my home and under my control better show him how to handle himself and the dangers of liquor more than just expecting him to wait until a certain age and the saying...Go for it... 

eaglemama2
by Silver Member on Jan. 25, 2010 at 6:32 AM

 

Your thoughts?

Yes it should be lowered to 18.   You are considered an 'adult' at 18, and if you are fighting this war and could die for your country, you are entitled to a beer.

What are the advantages of lowering the drinking age? 

They become adults at 18, they should be treated as such.   Otherwise don't let them be adults until they turn 21.

What are the disadvantages? 

I cannot see any disadvantages, but maybe I am a little bias being German as the drinking age is 16.

With that said, parents must educate and teach their kids about alcohol, responsibility and safety.  When we became of age, our parents let us have a glass of wine or beer with dinner.   Trust me, this took the fun out of going out and getting wasted, because we could do it safely at home.    As a result, we learned responsibilty.

When we were growing up there was always a bottle of wine with every meal at the table.   This is the culture I am used to and is not considered ridiculous in Europe.  We do the same at home now, there is a bottle of wine with every meal.

On another note, it does not really matter because teens will go out and do many things you may or may not approve with, whether you like it or not.    Why not teach them responsibility?   That is more productive than finding out they went out, got drunk and wrapped their  car around a tree, because they did not know better.


litninbug
by on Jan. 25, 2010 at 7:03 AM
Two Words. Definitely NOT!!!!!!
litninbug
by on Jan. 25, 2010 at 7:06 AM

Only asking for trouble!!!!  There is enough trouble with underage drinking and in my opinion it is destroying our teens.

EireLass
by Ruby Member on Jan. 25, 2010 at 7:16 AM

this is another one of those "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" things. there really are very few uber-responsible teens......no, they shouldn't be able to buy alcohol. with older people, generally nothing good comes from it....why would you give it to a kid.

Angiebooboo
by on Jan. 25, 2010 at 7:30 AM

yes , an 18 year old is a adult , although i dont drink and i dont want my 18 year old drinking , i know he does , it is now time for an 18 year old to grow up.

Mommy_of_Riley
by Jes on Jan. 25, 2010 at 9:13 AM

I stick to the old saying that,
"if you are old enough to die for your country then you are old enough to have a beer..."

We are considered adults at 18.  Legally for ALL other things... but we have to be 21 to drink a glass of wine with dinner?  Sorry but that has NEVER made sense to me.  And we are the ONLY country to have such a high legal drinking age... Most other countries with lower age limits actually have LESS cases of DWIs and DUIs... 

eaglemama2
by Silver Member on Jan. 25, 2010 at 9:42 AM


Quoting Mommy_of_Riley:

I stick to the old saying that,
"if you are old enough to die for your country then you are old enough to have a beer..."

We are considered adults at 18.  Legally for ALL other things... but we have to be 21 to drink a glass of wine with dinner?  Sorry but that has NEVER made sense to me.  And we are the ONLY country to have such a high legal drinking age... Most other countries with lower age limits actually have LESS cases of DWIs and DUIs... 

Thank you.   In Germany it's 16 but then again it's not a huge deal, it's part of our culture as it is in France.   Teach kids responsible behavior because just with anything else, sex, drugs, etc you bet teens are curious and will experiment whether you like it or not.   Talk to your kids often and educate them, raise them to be responsible and don't shield them from the inevitable IMO.  At least give them a chance so that they dont get hurt because they did not know better.

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