Pressure is mounting for Australian governments to raise the legal drinking age to 21 to protect the health of young people whose brains are still vulnerable to the toxicity of alcohol at 18, leading health experts say. Become a SMH member today! Drinking age should be raised to 21 essay today and you can easily save your favourite articles, join in the conversation and comment, plus select which news your want direct to your inbox.
Four professors of mental health and public health have joined a growing list of influential Australians to call for a new legal drinking age that would bring Australia in line with the US where people cannot buy alcohol until they are 21. They say raising the age limit would protect young people from the brain damage that can be caused by too much alcohol and the harms associated with being drunk, such as car accidents and violence. Mind Research Institute, Kypros Kypri of the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle, and Sandra Jones from the Centre for Health Initiatives at the University of Wollongong, said there was increasing evidence that the accessibility of alcohol from the age of 18 was causing great harm to young people. For example, they said a survey of 260 people aged 17 to 19 during end-of-school celebrations on the Queensland Gold Coast in 2010 showed 75 per cent played drinking games, 64 per cent consumed more than 10 drinks per night, and one in five had unprotected sex, in some cases with multiple partners. The professors said evidence from the US and Canada suggested lifting the drinking age to 21 decreased rates of alcohol-related harm. In the US, they said a review of 17 studies in various states that raised the legal drinking age found the average number of young people involved in road accidents decreased 16 per cent.
Furthermore, they said research in some Canadian provinces showed that a higher minimum legal purchasing age reduced the number of young people being hospitalised due to alcohol use disorder, alcohol poisoning, suicidal behaviour and traffic crash injuries. The evidence strongly suggests that raising the minimum purchasing age for alcohol would reduce youth alcohol-related harm in Australia,’’ they wrote. The professors’ demand for a debate on a law change follows similar calls from the Australian Medical Association, Ita Buttrose, and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Get the latest news and updates emailed straight to your inbox. The professors said that while the federal government could broker a coordinated agreement to amend all relevant regulations in the states to increase the legal purchasing age to 21, they could also follow the US government, which required all states to pass some form of age-21 purchasing legislation to receive funding for new highways. Less challenging options included raising the legal purchasing age to 19 or 20, restricting the amount and types of alcohol young people could purchase or banning use in public places.
What kind of company sells a dud like this to its customers? Subscribe for unlimited access to news. Return to the homepage by clicking on the site logo. Many groups make a number of arguments about the state of the current legal drinking age and few seem happy leaving it at 21 where it has been for many years. These advocates who make this argument about lowering the legal drinking age also suggest in their argument that the current legal drinking age simply promotes illicit drinking of alcohol, as many teenagers have experimented with alcohol, and some heavily and persistently, long before they reach the age of 21. Research substantiates the contention that the legal drinking age should remain at 21.
Why is the Drinking Age 21? In short, we ended up with a national minimum age of 21 because of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. But where’d they get 21? Let’s try your email address again! This law basically told states that they had to enact a minimum drinking age of 21 or lose up to ten percent of their federal highway funding.
Since that’s serious coin, the states jumped into line fairly quickly. 21, medical uses, and during the course of legal employment. That answers the legal question of why the drinking age is 21, but what was the underlying logic of the original policy? Did lawmakers just pick 21 out of a hat because they wanted college seniors to learn the nuances of bar culture before graduation? 21 was the age at which a person could, among other things, vote and become a knight. Since a person was an official adult at age 21, it seemed to make sense that they could drink then, too. Who was responsible for lowering the drinking age to 18 for part of the 20th century, though?
Believe it or not, Franklin Roosevelt helped prompt the change in a rather circuitous fashion. FDR approved lowering the minimum age for the military draft from 21 to 18 during World War II. When the Vietnam-era draft rolled around, though, people were understandably a bit peeved that 18-year-old men were mature enough to fight, but not old enough to vote. Thus, in 1971 the states ratified the Twenty-sixth Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18.
Legislators started applying the same logic to drinking. The drinking age, which the 21st Amendment made the responsibility of individual states, started dropping around the country. Critics of the change decried rises in alcohol-related traffic fatalities among 18-20 year-old drivers in areas where the drinking age had been lowered. 18-year-olds to drink and those that didn’t. Teenagers from the more restrictive state would drive into the one where they could buy booze, drink, and then drive home, which created a perfect storm for traffic fatalities. Even if teens weren’t any more predisposed than older adults to drive after they’d been drinking, all of this state-hopping meant that those who did drive drunk had to drive greater distances to get home than their older brethren, who could just slip down the block for a beer or six.