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Should the Drinking Age Be Lowered?

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    In recent years, the legal drinking age has been up for debate.  In 2007, federal lawmakers were flirting with the idea that the legal drinking age be lowered.  Some support this idea, however, most Americans oppose it, making valid arguments.  For various reasons, the drinking age should not be lowered, and most Americans agree.

    In the 1930s, one had to be at least 21 years of age to buy alcohol.  In the 1970s, circumstances changed, and the legal drinking age was lowered to 18, 19, or 20, depending on the state.  This did not last long.  Many states were pressured to raise the legal drinking age back to 21 because of higher teenage vehicle accidents and fatalities.  By 1984, the legal drinking age was back at 21 years of age.  (Carroll)

    Valid arguments for not lowering the drinking age have been made throughout the years.  Some have argued that lowering the drinking age  will reduce the allure of alcohol.  However, research has shown that  lowering the drinking age will make alcohol more accessible to an even younger population.  For example, if 18-year-olds are allowed by law to drink, then teenagers as young as 15 years of age will look at that and try to drink, and will probably be successful.  The behaviors of 18-year-olds are extremely influential on 15 to 17-year-olds.

    In addition, some have argued that at 18 years of age, one can vote, die for their country in the military, and smoke, so why not be allowed to drink?  The “Ages of Initiation” vary for every life event.  For example, one must be 16 to drive, 18 to vote, and 25 to rent a car.  These different ages take into account the responsibility of each act, the requirements, risks and benefits.  (Alcohol Policy MD, 32, 34)

    Studies have also shown that alcohol in teenagers not only lessens one’s brainpower, but drinking at a young age could lead to alcoholism later in life.  People who drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics than those who began drinking at 21 years of age.  These findings proved to be true for both men and women, and for individuals who have alcoholics in their families.  (Bower, 52)  This is an alarming statistic.  Lowering the drinking age in all states to 18 would risk the future of teenagers as young as 15 years of age, and perhaps even younger individuals.  The younger individuals look up to older individuals, therefore allowing 18-year-olds to drink alcohol would produce an unfortunate chain reaction.

    According to a poll taken in July of 2007, 77% of Americans said that they would oppose a federal law to lower the legal drinking age to 18 in all states.  In the minority, 22% of Americans said they would support such a law.  Several factors were taken into account during the poll, such as young versus old Americans, men versus women, and drinkers versus non-drinkers.  The majority of all groups said that they oppose the idea of lowering the drinking age.  However, Americans between the ages of 18 and 34, men, and drinkers, were said to be more lenient on their views on punishment for underage drinking.  (Carroll)

    In conclusion, the United States government should not lower the legal drinking age to 18 in all states.  This leads to alcohol consumption of younger and younger individuals and a higher chance of alcoholism later in life.  Alcohol is a drug, and leads to vehicle accidents and fatalities, especially in young people; this was proven in the 1970s.  American society should learn from history, not be doomed to repeat it.  Adults should be interested in raising young individuals to be upstanding, intelligent citizens; allowing young individuals to partake in alcohol consumption would doom this effort.


    1. Alcohol Policy MD.  “Arguments for Lowering the Legal Drinking Age Are Not Valid.” Should the Legal Drinking Age Be Lowered?  ed. Stefan Kiesbye.  New York: Greenhaven Press.  2008.  32, 34.
    2. Bower, B.  “Alcoholism Shows Its Youthful Side.”  Science News.  153.n4 (Jan 24, 1998): 52(1).
    3. Carroll, Joseph.  “Most Americans Oppose Lowering Legal Drinking Age to 18 Nationwide; Six in 10 Americans Support Stricter Penalties For Underage Drinking.(Gallup survey)(Survey).”  Gallup Poll News Service.  (July 27, 2007): NA.


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