Drinking Age Essay, Research Paper
Drinking is a big problem that causes many teen-age deaths in the United States, however, many people still argue that the legal age for drinking should be reduced to eighteen. This issue has been brought up many times, but the law has not been changed since the change to twenty-one in 1980. States have become stricter about preventing under-age drinking, but teen-agers have no problem getting alcohol. There are many arguments in favor of changing the drinking age back to eighteen. The facts show that drinking alcohol is too large of a responsibility for an eighteen-year-old to handle.
In 1980 the government raised the drinking age to twenty-one because the number of drunk driving accidents was causing many teen-age deaths. The young adults of America considered this law a second prohibition. The main objective of the law was to make the young people happier, healthier, and safer (Smith & Smith 1). Because this law was viewed as a revival of prohibition, it was not widely accepted by the public, and some states were hesitant to pass the new law. Despite the opposition, the government pursued the passage of the law and offered states benefits for their cooperation. Some of these benefits included extra government money for state highways as well as other programs previously funded by the individual state governments (McCarthy 2).
Although this law was a good idea and passed with the safety of American teen-agers in mind, many people were not happy with the change. People feel that if eighteen-year-olds are considered adults they should have the right to consume alcoholic beverages without worrying about the law.
Adults over twenty-one that party with friends that are under twenty-one get a bad record for giving alcohol to minors. This type of record can cause a problem in the future when looking for a job, applying for a professional license, or seeking admission to graduate school. These are some heavy prices to pay for young people whose only crime was to engage in the traditional campus rituals of beer drinking and partying. Eighteen-year-olds are treated as adults. They can vote, fight for our country, buy and sell real estate, and raise families of their own. These are responsibilities that only an adult can handle (Smith & Smith 1).
The biggest problem with changing the drinking age back to eighteen would be that many eighteen-year-olds are not responsible enough to drink and then say they can not get behind the wheel of an automobile. This is why the drinking age was moved up to twenty-one in the first place. Drunk driving is the leading cause of teen-age deaths (Roth 26). The government figured that if they raised the drinking age the percentage of deaths by drunk driving would decrease. Statistics show that in recent years, 45,000 people were killed in car accidents, and if alcohol was not involved in those accidents then 10,000 of those who died would have live. If the drinking age were eighteen then this figure would increase by about 12,000 (Olson & Gerstein 34).
The law prevents people under twenty-one to buy and drink alcohol, but there are many issues on why the advertising for alcoholic products is aimed towards a younger audience. Of 77 sites surveyed on the Internet 82% of beer sites and 72% of spirits sites used techniques the CME says are particularly attractive to underage audiences. As tobacco companies start to back off on targeting younger audiences, the alcohol companies began to step up their targeting of younger audiences. A big reason why young adults under twenty-one feel they should drink is because many of the alcohol companies aim their advertisements toward the younger generation. This gets the youngsters interested in these beverages and they get the urge to try them (Beatty 1). The drinking age should not change, but the way the alcohol companies present their products should not be aimed towards younger audiences.
One of the main reasons that the age should not be changed back to eighteen is that many eighteen-year-olds are still in high school and can distribute what they purchase to younger peers. More than 1/3 of high school seniors? drinks to get drunk and if the age was lowered then that number would increase (O?Malley, Johnston, & Bachman 1). Males were more likely to drink than females but by a small margin (56 percent versus 49 percent), but the gender difference for getting drunk is a greater percentage (39 percent versus 29 percent). The law that was passed in 1980 has helped by lowering the percentage of drunk driving accidents by teenagers (O?Malley, Johnston, & Bachman 2). Many teen-agers that start before fifteen are four times more likely to become more alcohol dependent as those who begin drinking at age twenty-one are (Brody 1).
An eighteen-year-old can not run for office because they are not responsible enough so why should they be able to drink alcohol (Birckmayer & Hemenway 3)? The drinking age should not be changed back to eighteen. An eighteen-year-old is not responsible enough to handle the effects of alcohol. The government made the right decision to raise the drinking age to twenty-one in 1980 and that is how it should
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2) Beatty, Sally. ?Study Finds Alcohol Marketers Boosting Online Pitches to Youth.? Wall Street Journal. New York, Dec 17, 1998.
3) Smith, Michael Clay, and Smith, Margaret D. ?Treat students as adults: Set the Drinking Age at 18, not 21.? The Chronicle of Higher Education. Washington, Mar 12, 1999.
4) Brody, Jane. ?Coping With Cold, Hard Facts on Teen-Age Drinking.? New York Times. New York, Apr 6, 1999.
5) Bachman, Jeraid G, and Johnston, Lloyd D, and O?Malley, Petrick M. ?Alcohol use among adolescents.? Alcohol Health and Research World. Washington, 1999.
6) Hingson, Ralph W. ?College-age drinking problems.? Public Health Reports. Hyattsville, Jan/Feb 1998.
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