The Oracle

U.S. drinking age should be changed

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Written By Ysé Massot

The U.S. minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) of 21 was one of 39 measures ratified in the 1980s to reduce vehicular accidents, injuries, homicides and suicides caused by drinking excess. However, keeping the MLDA at 21 nowadays is not a viable solution because it actually makes alcohol more attractive to youth. Moreover, this law is not effective because numerous studies have shown that the majority of college students who are underage drink.

Part of the problem with alcohol abuse by young people is that the drinking age is too high. When the MLDA was raised to 21, which is the highest in the world, drinking became more attractive to young people. According to David J. Hanson, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at the State University of New York, research shows that prior to increasing the drinking age, alcohol consumption by college students increased as graduation neared. According to the research, when the law mandated a minimum age of 21 in California, younger students suddenly began drinking more than older graduating students.

This law is definitely not effective to prevent youth under 21 from drinking and it might actually worsen the problems with alcohol. According to a Gallup survey, two-thirds of American college students reported they drink alcohol and 54 percent of teenagers nationwide said they had no problem with obtaining alcohol. Furthermore, a 21 year old or younger person dies in an alcohol-related traffic crash once every 3 hours on average. This shows that raising the drinking age to 21 was not at all an effective way to reduce underage alcohol abuse.

Most European countries, like France (where I am from) have set the MDLA to 18. Moreover, European culture makes drinking alcohol less of a taboo than in America. In France, drinking in the street is allowed in most of the cities and one surely do not need to hide a bottle of wine that he or she wants to offer to a friend with a package so the public does not see it. If the U.S. played down the significance of drinking alcohol, youth would not been so enticed by the consumption of alcohol and would not drink as much.

I also think that instead of telling students not to use alcohol at all, Living Skills should increase students awareness about the danger of drinking to much and teach them how to drink in a responsible way.

Lastly, it is unfair to be prohibited from drinking alcohol at age 18 when society already considers people of this age to be full-grown adults for most purposes. Indeed, by 18 you earn many responsibilities and rights such as marrying, smoking, voting, owning guns and joining the army. You should be considered as mature enough to drink alcohol.

Setting the limit age for drinking alcohol to 21 is an unfair and ineffective rule, which worsens youth alcohol related problems. At 18 years old, people are mature enough to drink alcohol and raising the limit to 21 makes alcohol more attractive to youth, which increases the numbers of youth drinking and alcohol accidents.

In order to decrease alcohol related problems in America, drinking alcohol in America should not be considered as such a taboo, American students in high school should be taught how to drink in a responsible way and the age limit to drink alcohol should be progressively lowered to 20, 19 and finally 18.

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U.S. drinking age should be changed