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PRO: Drinking Age


Published: Thursday, November 15, 2001

Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010


It’s kind of a scary prospect, isn’t it? Adulthood means responsibility. Yikes.

Nevertheless, in America, you are legally an adult at age 18. So what does that mean?

You can vote. Participation in the democratic process is a basic right in this country.

You can join the army.

You can buy cigarettes & other tobacco products.

You can be tried and sentenced as an adult in a court of law.

So, to sum up, you can do four major things on your eighteenth birthday, three of which can potentially kill you (I’ll let you decide which three). Happy birthday!

And what can’t you do on your eighteenth birthday?

You can’t rent a car in your own name, or drive a rented vehicle.

And you can’t purchase or consume alcohol.

Seem unfair? It is. What the government is basically saying is that at age eighteen you can legally do most of the things that are potentially fatal, except for one: drinking. And while the two things I mentioned are lethal if combined (driving a car and consuming alcohol), it seems a bit odd that you can die for your country at eighteen–but you can’t go to a bar.

Some of you may be thinking that if we were to lower the drinking age, we would find ourselves with a bunch of alcoholic youth. I say this would not be the case. Let’s look at Europe as an example, specifically the United Kingdom. The drinking age in the U.K. is eighteen. There are bars on nearly every corner in the cities, and at least one in every town or village. Scandalous, you say!

Are there any alcoholics in the United Kingdom? Yes, there are. Alcoholism is not a uniquely American disease; it is prevalent in every country on the planet. Alcoholism, however, cannot be cited as an effect of a lower legal drinking age. To follow up on my previous example, the difference between the United Kingdom and America as far as drinking laws are concerned is that alcohol is not taboo in Europe. It is not considered the source of all evil, as it is commonly seen here. I do not assert that the Europeans do not recognize the dangers of alcohol, but rather that perhaps they have a better, more fair opinion of it. Social institutions of Europe often revolve around alcohol: families drink wine together at meals, wine is often served at formal meetings, friends meet at the local pub for a drink in the evenings.

I do not condone the over-use of alcohol. I do not claim that alcohol is any less harmful than we know it to be.

America needs to change its attitude towards young people. It’s a matter of trust.

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