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The United States is one of the only developed nations whose drinking age is greater than the age of 18. Why may this be? In the 1980s the U.S. government set the legal drinking age to 21 with the intent on reducing the rates of alcoholism and drunk driving among young people; prior to that the drinking age in many states was 18. I propose that the legal age where people can consume and purchase alcohol in the United States should be lowered down to the age of 18. Going back in time I would like to quote a slogan the led way to the 24th Amendment: "old enough to fight; old enough to vote." Seeing as this was one of the slogans used to set the voting age to 18 why can't it be used here too? A person is old enough to fight and/or die for their country yet why can't they consume or purchase alcohol. When you turn 18 in the United States then you are legally considered an adult and are offered the right to vote, the right to marry, and the ability to serve in the military. Majority of college students under the legal drinking age consume alcohol; sadly this is done in an irresponsible manner. This is done because these college students see it as a "forbidden fruit" or as a way to rebel against society. By lowering the drinking age to 18 it would prevent the temptation for under-age drinkers to consume alcohol in an irresponsible manner.
The problem before the 1980s in having the legal drinking age at 18 was that many people abused that privilege and there were many alcohol related deaths, many due to drunk driving, but the problem was not due to age but our lack of penalties concerning drinking and driving. Compared to many European nations the United States' consequences for drunk driving are relaxed. One of the ways that European nations are able to keep their drinking age low would be because they do not issue drivers licenses until the age of 18. Countries such as France have drinking ages of 16. Switzerland allows drinking at the age of 14, and Poland and Portugal have no minimum drinking age. Yet compared to the U.S. none of these countries have as many alcohol related deaths/injuries; this is because those countries are responsible. Now I'm not saying that the U.S. is irresponsible, in fact the United States, being a developed nation, should have its drinking age lowered.
Knowing that when you are recognized as an adult at the age of 18 then those who are of that age should not be denied any rights given to them. These rights would include the right to vote, the right to marry, and the ability to serve in the military, along with those people are allowed to purchase cigarettes! Cigarettes kill more people in the United States every day than people dying of alcohol poisoning or of drinking-and-driving accidents; this number is so vast that it shouldn't even compare to alcohol. Still our government sells these "death sticks" to a multitude of people who are 18, and just because the government places extremely high taxes on cigarettes it will not prevent people from buying them because many people will rebalance their budgets to compensate for the purchase of cigarettes. So selling cigarettes to people of 18 years of age is legal; yet selling alcohol, a much less dangerous substance, is illegal.
Continuing on from other rights people are granted when they turn 18 would be the right to marry. When we turn 18 we are willing to spend our entire lives to somebody we love, but not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol. There has been proof that the human brain does not fully develop until the age of 25 so how can we truly know if we are ready or prepared to take on the responsibility of marriage. The truth is we don't and that's why we have such a high divorce rate. At 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages ending in divorce makes the United States the highest divorce rate country. Divorce violates the sanctity of marriage and if the government tolerates this then why wouldn't they be able to tolerate the drinking age at 18 along with the age where people allowed to get married?
Finally the last right we have at 18 is to enlist in the armed forces. We send many young people of our country to war torn areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan were they have a much higher chance of losing their lives or taking another. Back to the 1960s slogan "Old enough to fight; old enough to vote." It's time to alter that slogan. "Old enough to fight; old enough to drink." Seriously, if we're allowed to die for our country then why can't we have a drink here and there?
Critics of this view point might argue that the legal age was raised to 21 due to irresponsibility in the past and high alcohol related accidents. This may have been true. Then again you can look further back in our past with our prohibition issue. Professor Ruth C. Engs of Indiana University states "As a nation we have tried prohibition legislation twice in the past for controlling irresponsible drinking problems. This was during National Prohibition in the 1920s and state prohibition during the 1850s. These laws were finally repealed because they were unenforceable and because the backlash towards them caused other social problems. Today we are repeating history and making the same mistakes that occurred in the past. Prohibition did not work then and prohibition for young people under the age of 21 is not working now."
Critics may also say that the Age-21 law has been successful in decreasing alcohol consumption among teenagers. Where this may be true in some cases it does not exclude the mass amount of teenagers who do drink. Teens that drink alcohol do not do it in moderation, quite the opposite; they will drink as much as they can at one period of time, this is known as binge drinking. Some people may wonder why teens would want drink as much as they can, and the answer is very simple. Consider yourself for instance; you're only allowed to eat cookies once every two months, therefore, wouldn't you try to eat as many as you can because you know that you will not be able to enjoy the pleasure for quite some time to come? Well teens see this with alcohol; to them it is their "forbidden fruit" as cookies would be yours. This is why many teens binge drink, although I do not condone it lowering the drinking age to 18 would decrease the amount of teens binge drinking. With availability of alcohol to people who are 18 it would make alcohol more available to younger teens and therefore they would not have to drink as much. This will not solve the under-age drinking problem because the cold hard truth is that if a teenager really wants something then they will find a way to get it, as this is with both alcohol and marijuana. It's not that our society wants this but it is an inescapable inconveniency that is just not possible to regulate.
Knowing that anybody can obtain alcohol at any age it is clear that the United States should maintain control over the situation. Also just because the drinking age being lowered doesn't mean that a ton of people are going to go out and get drunk every night, this just gives people who are 18 and drunk the reassurance that there will be no repercussions to their actions, such as now where many people are too afraid of getting a M.I.P. that they will not go to a hospital if they are dangerously sick from alcohol poisoning. To reiterate what this is saying; the government should lower the legal drinking age back to 18, and by lowering the drinking age to 18 it would prevent the temptation for under-age drinkers to consume alcohol in an irresponsible manner.