Choose Responsibility, a nonprofit organization based in Vermont, is pushing legislation to lower the legal drinking age in the United States to 18 by establishing a drinking permit. While we often see efforts to change the legal drinking age, it is refreshing to see efforts to change the culture ideals surrounding alcohol in this country.
The permit would be granted to 18-year-old high school graduates after completing a 40-hour alcohol awareness course taught by a certified instructor.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of college students who binge
drink (having five or more drinks in one sitting) are 18- to 20-year olds, showing the current laws are often disregarded.
The legal drinking age was raised from 18 to 21 in 1984 with the passage of the Drinking Age Act. According to the law, states decide consumption age, but those states that do not set the age at 21 will lose 10 percent of their federal highway funding – resulting in a devastating loss of millions to keep highways and bridges up and running.
The United States is one of very few countries in the world that enforces a drinking age of 21. Others include Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Mongolia and Oman. In a study done by the World Health Organization, 15- to 16-year olds in European countries where the legal drinking age ranges from 16 to 18, reported more instances of moderate, responsible drinking, and fewer occasions of intoxication compared to Americans of the same age bracket. These young adults don’t use alcohol as a means to rebel – it’s a cultural norm, not a forbidden fruit. They actively learn from an earlier age to drink responsibly.
Our government needs to encourage a cultural shift on how American youth view alcohol, not continue to crackdown on young adults who choose to drink. Until this happens, college students must engage their newfound freedoms responsibly.