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Lowering The Drinking Age To 18.

1344 words - 5 pages

Minimum Legal Drinking AgeThe Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) has been a controversial issue ever since the 1850's. The reason I chose to research this topic was to discover the pros and cons of lowering the legal drinking age to 18. Many people I know are very interested in such a change, but what the facts stated in my research may change their opinions slightly. In this report I will discuss the facts and fiction of this debate, and both sides of the argument to lower or even raise the MLDA.Following the end of Prohibition, each State developed its own set of policies to regulate the distribution, sale, and consumption of alcohol. In addition to the MLDA, examples of other alcohol control policies include excise taxes, restrictions on hours and days of sales, and server training. "The law's goal, of course, was to make young people happier, healthier, and safer." (Smith, 1999) Many of these other alcohol policies have only recently been evaluated. Of all the alcohol control policies, MLDA policy has been the most studied. Since the 1970's, at least 70 studies have explicitly examined the effects of either increases or decreases in the MLDA. The MLDA policies may have been evaluated sooner and more often for a variety of reasons, including growing concern about youth drinking and driving, availability of traffic crash history, the fact that many States first lowered, then raised, their MLDA's, and the effect of the change with the different MLDA's. After all the study over the MLDA, no changes have been made at the present time. It is still in constant debate whether the age should be raised or even possibly lowered.Beer is the alcoholic beverage of choice for most youth. As a result, reduced rates of alcohol among youth after the MLDA was increased were primarily evident in decreased rates of beer consumption. Rates of wine and distilled alcohol use among youth did not change dramatically following the rise in the MLDA. Opponents of the age 21 MLDA believe that even if a higher MLDA reduced alcohol use among minors, drinking rates and alcohol-related problems would surge among those age 21 and older. They believe that when youth turned 21, they would drink to "make up for lost time" and thus drink at higher rates than they would had they been allowed to drink alcohol at an earlier age. Even though the MLDA has been 21 for many years, minors continue to consume alcohol, and do so in an irresponsible manner. "This is largely because drinking is seen by these youth as an enticing "forbidden fruit," a "badge of rebellion against authority," and a symbol of adulthood. (Dr. Engs, 1)Through all the years of debate and legislation, including the 1920's Prohibition of alcohol, drinking by minors remains evident and going strong. So the argument is for most opponents of the age 21 MLDA that if it cannot be stopped, why not let it continue legally. "For most purposes today, we treat 18-year-olds as adults. They can vote for President, fire a rifle for...

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