Ronald Reagan and Drinking Age

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During Ronald Reagan’s Presidency, he declared ice cream as a “nutritious” food. A week later, on July 17, 1984, Ronald Reagan fought the National Maximum Drinking Hall Song which downed the young drinking age in all food to twenty-one. Reagan enforced this act by withholding states a percentage of highway funds from the states who did not raise their drinking age. This increase in the drinking age causes a fanatic problem mirroring the one during the Prohibition. Because, like adults who illegally consume a copious amount of alcohol in a small amount of time during the Prohibition, young adults now also feel pressured to binge brink to not get arrested by authorities; however, this is reckless and could be fatal. The national drinking age in should be reduced to the age of eighteen because young adults who are already drinking would have proper role models who drink responsibly and because the current arguments which hold the consumption of alcohol to the age of twenty-one are not supported by research.

In the United States, eighteen is the age of adulthood with the new responsibilities of smoking cigarettes, voting, serving on juries, being prosecuted as an adult, getting married, signing contracts, purchasing a house or a vehicle, and joining the military. Even though an eighteen-year-old receives all these new privileges and responsibilities, they still have not reserved the right to drink. A large percentage of teens drink and this number of underage drinkers spikes going into college. These teens are forced to binge drink at house or fraternity parties in order to not get caught (Glaser, New York Times). These types of social events do not come along with adults who present and represent good responsible drinking habits. For example, take driving and drinking. A person does not simply receive keys to a car at the age of sixteen. They receive a learner’s permit and must complete driving hours along with other criteria depending on state laws. Likewise, Liechtenstein, Germany, and Portugal understand that a person would not be able to drink responsibly if they were simply “handed the keys to the car,” so to speak. These countries utilize their logic in the constructions of their laws, especially those pertaining to alcohol, therefore there laws are more rational and deliberate. Liechtenstein, Germany, and Portugal also realized that it is more logical to allow young adults, at the age of sixteen, to start drinking fermented beverages: beer, cider, perry, and wine. Then at the age of eighteen, after a person was able to learn their limits, allow them to legally consume distilled and compound beverages: rum whiskey, gin, tequila, vodka, brandy, and liquor (Minimum Legal Drinking age, Laws and customs that allow us to slowly widen the drinking pallot can lead to a positive shift in drinking habits among young adults.

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The United States is one of the only countries to withhold alcohol from their citizens till such an old age. Out of 190 countries, 162 countries or 85.26% of the world’s countries allow for the legal drinking age to be under twenty-one with America being one of the 14.73% of the world that does not. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 17.5% of alcohol consumers are underage in the United States which contributes a revenue of about $22.5 billion of all alcohol sales (Minimum Legal Drinking age, This proves that, although President Ronald Reagan increased the drinking age, teens and young adults are still actively finding other venues of getting alcohol illegally though fake I.D.s, strangers, adults, or friends of the legal drinking age. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 24.8% of children between the ages of 14 and 15, 46.7% between the ages of 16 and 17, and 68.3% between 18 and 20 are average consumers of alcohol (Drinking Age This proves that President Ronald Reagan’s actions did not stop or halt under age drinking. Those that believe the legal commencement of drinking should not occur until the twenty-first birthday argue that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain which handles cognitive decision making, is not fully developed at age eighteen. The prefrontal cortex of the brain involves “judgement, impulse control and abstract thought and the ability to anticipate the consequences of your actions,” is not fully developed until about age twenty-six (Christensen, CNN). According to Dr. William Graf, “there’s no magic that happens physically to someone when they are 21 as compare to age 18.” Adulthood, under the law, conflicts with developmental science which indicates that adolescence usually begins at ten years old and ends at about nineteen however maturity is reliant on individuals perspective. Despite President Ronald Reagan’s thoughts, raising the drinking age is not going to stop young adults from drinking just like how making marijuana illegal did not stop people from smoking.

States should have the right to declare their own laws at their discretion without influences from federal government. The federal government threatening to take away ten percent of the state’s highway fund is an overreach of federal power. Drinking is a custom in American culture. Lowering the drinking age would be beneficial in order to maintain safe drinking habits. Dinner outings and all social events in all social and economical classes are centered around drinking and in our society a person needs to understand how to conduct themselves properly while under the influence and how much they should have.

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Ronald Reagan and Drinking Age. (2021, Aug 31). Retrieved from

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