In today’s society there are many rules and regulations that are set forth to protect our youth. One of those regulations is the drinking age of our country. In the United States, the drinking age has been 21 since the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed by Congress in 1984. When the drinking age was raised, the goal was to reduce highway driving fatalities. Despite the fact that this has been the law for 34 years, if the drinking age was lowered to 18, it would greatly boost the economy and benefit the community. At the age of 18, U.S. citizens are qualified to join the military. It is no secret that in most states, people the age of 18 are also allowed to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products. Deciding which, alcohol or tobacco products, is worse than the other has been a standing argument for years, but the reality of the situation is at our fingertips. Some individuals may choose to see the other side of the argument, even with the presented facts at hand. Everyone knows that the 21 age limit hasn’t stopped minors from drinking, and may actually be contributing to an increase in extreme drinking. Binge drinking and alcohol poisoning are a serious risk to underage alcohol consumers. If public drinking was allowed, there would be no hiding or sneaking involved in the consumption of alcohol, therefore making it safer for the public.
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According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, underage drinking accounts for about 17.5% of consumer spending in the U.S. Put into numbers, that results to about 22.5 billion dollars per year. With that being said, lowering the drinking age would make public drinking more common. From the suburbs, to college campuses, to inner cities, kids find ways to get around the 21 year old limit. Kids today are downing as much of the ‘forbidden fruit’ as possible before going out, to avoid being caught drinking in public or being found in possession . Instead of hassling to sneak alcohol into concerts, sporting events, and other activities, 18-20 year olds could drink comfortably and more responsibly. With more people buying alcohol throughout the country, this would greatly boost economic revenue. And as long as college students can go to bars, the bars are going to keep making money. With more people buying drinks from liquor stores, small town bars and restaurants, this will cause the tax revenue to increase as well, bringing in more money for the community. As John Mccardell of Middlebury College puts it, the drinking age of 21 has been an abysmal failure. It has not reduced or limited drinking activity in minors, but simply driven it underground, behind closed doors, and in private. The truth of the matter is, underage drinkers are going to get their hands on alcohol regardless of the law. Underage drinking has become a new norm in society. Police officers are beginning to realize that they cannot stop it, they can only contain it. Authorities find themselves making two arrests or convictions for every thousand violations. If efforts of police officers were more focused on alcohol abuse, the overconsumption of alcohol, and d.u.i. driving instead of trying to chase kids with a beer in their hand, they would be more successful in keeping society safe. If people the age of 18 were able to drink legally, there would be no reason to hide their alcohol consumption, thus making it easier for authorities and also guardians to control and regulate.
18 years old is a significant age for American teens. Upon turning 18, they are now eligible to enlist in the military, vote for local, state, and national government positions, and they are allowed to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products. As stated by The Odyssey, more than 480,000 people die each year from smoking cigarettes, while drinking causes nearly 88,000 deaths per year. These numbers show that smoking cigarettes cause four times more deaths in America per year than consuming alcohol. If this is the truth, what sense does it make for the product that causes the most deaths to be available at a younger age? If an 18-year-old can make the decision to smoke cigarettes and increase their risk of getting cancer, then it should be up to them to consume alcohol responsibly. As stated before, 18-year-olds can make the decision of going into the military and fighting for their country. For most people, this is a big decision, as it should be. If an 18-20-year-old is capable of making the decision to fire a weapon and put their life on the line in battle, they should be able to enjoy a refreshing adult beverage if they wish. There’s some truth to the idea that alcohol can reduce stress in adults. Alcohol is a sedative and a depressant that affects the central nervous system, relaxing your muscles and soothing the mind. With this being said, if an individual is mature enough to make life-altering decisions such as smoking cigarettes and joining the military, they should be able to enjoy alcoholic beverages as well.
Some people may choose to view this topic from the other side. While the risk of underage drinkers binge drinking and getting alcohol poisoning is a real concern, most teens consume alcohol with the fear of being caught and the uncertainty of when they will be able to drink again. If the drinking age was lowered to 18, college students and other people of the same age could consume alcohol comfortably and in a safer manner, lowering the risk of alcohol poisoning. Teenagers enjoy the rush they get from doing something they know they shouldn’t. If 18-year-olds could legally consume alcohol, it would take away that adrenaline rush factor they get from consuming alcohol at their age and they would be more controlled instead of feeling the need to always overdo it. As stated before, the 21 drinking age has not prevented the consumption of alcohol in minors in the slightest. The law has created a culture of reckless behavior and unsupervised binging. With this in mind, normalizing alcohol consumption as something done responsibly in moderation will make drinking alcohol less of a taboo for young adults entering college and the workforce.
In conclusion, lowering the drinking age to 18 would boost the economy, benefit the community, and prevent kids under the age of 21 from binge drinking and reduce the risk of alcohol poisoning in minors. Every time a party gets busted and every underage drinker gets a ticket, authorities are pushing the issue further and further underground. The reality is, kids are going to find ways to escape the limit, no matter what the law says. Dropping the age to 18 would nearly eliminate the behavior that teenagers exhibit when they come in contact with alcohol. Furthermore, this would allow them to experience alcohol consumption in moderation, instead of acting recklessly and being irresponsible, on top of dealing with possible health issues that could come with it.
Society’s young adults should be trusted with the same kind of responsibilities with alcohol as they are with the ability to fight for our country and vote in our booths. With that being said, lowering the drinking age to 18 would greatly benefit society and in turn, keep young adults safer and teach them how to be responsible instead of teaching them how to be sneaky.
Lowering the Drinking Age to 18. (2019, Jul 10).
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