Blog
Aug
22
2008

Would lowering the drinking age be helpful or harmful?

Categories: Alcohol, News, Public Policy, Substance Abuse

At this point, you’ve probably heard about the 100 or so college presidents that are asking lawmakers to rethink the current legal drinking age. Presidents from big named-schools like Duke, Ohio State, Tufts, Dartmouth and Syracuse came together quietly about a year ago under the direction of John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College in Vermont. According to McCardell, “This is a law that is routinely evaded,” and “the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory.”

McCardell’s group is called the Amethyst Initiative after the gem that is thought to ward off drunkenness. Their aim is to spark up “an informed and dispassionate debate” about the federal law that makes 21 the legal drinking age in all states. While the plan is to launch a public campaign that may include newspaper ads in the coming weeks, the Amethyst Initiative is already getting sharp criticism.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), for example, has accused the college presidents of trying to find an easy way out of a serious campus problem. MADD has questioned whether the drinking age will even be enforced on the campuses of those presidents in the group. They also argue that lowering the drinking age will increase fatal car crashes.

The Amethyst Initiative agrees that alcohol abuse by college students is a serious problem. However, they argue that the current law just isn’t working, creating a “culture of dangerous, clandestine binge-drinking.”  They also bring up that age old debate of 18-yearolds having the ability to enlist in the army and vote but not being able to buy a beer. McCardell says that college students will drink no matter what and do so more dangerously when it’s illegal.

So, what do you think? Would lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 help combat alcohol abuse among college students or make it worse? Please comment below!

Technorati technorati tags: Amethyst Initiative, , , ,

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