Monday, June 8, 2009

Support 21, myths and facts.

Today, June 8, 2009, The Batavian asked, in its poll of the day, "What age restrictions should be placed on the drinking of alcohol?" Perhaps the question would have been better phrased "What age restrictions should be placed on the purchase of alcohol?"

It is legal in New York State for a person under 21 to drink alcohol with parental permission.

At GCASA we Support 21 and as the debate continues there is a lot of bad information out there. So, I am starting a series on Support 21 to dispel the myths. While people are entitled to their own opinions, they are not entitled to their own facts.

The facts to maintain the age of purchasing alcohol to 21 are pretty compelling as a way to enhance public safety. In fact, a compelling argument can be made to raise the drinking age even higher, perhaps to 35, because people under 35 have much more negative consequences associated with alcohol than people under 35.

Since the age to purchase alcohol was raised to 21 in 1984, over 17,000 teen age lives have been saved. That's more American lives than were taken in 9/11 and so far in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Here is a quote from the Why 21 web site:

Around this time, the nation began taking a firm stance on the issue of drunk driving. And because it was apparent that a 21 drinking age law reduced alcohol-related fatalities and injuries, there was a groundswell to help decrease drunk driving deaths and injuries by raising the minimum drinking age to 21. President Ronald Reagan responded to growing evidence that a 21 drinking age law would save lives.

On July 17, 1984, President Reagan signed into law the Uniform Drinking Age Act mandating all states to adopt 21 as the legal drinking age within five years. By 1988, all states had set 21 as the minimum drinking age, which is where it should remain.

Since that time, the 21 minimum drinking age law has saved about 900 lives per year as estimated by the National Traffic Highway Administration (NHTSA). (9-11) In short, there are more than 17,000 people alive today since all states adopted the law in 1988. That’s about as many people in a sold-out crowd at a professional basketball game or a medium-sized U.S. college.

In fact, the 21 minimum drinking age law has been heralded as one of the most effective public safety laws ever passed. It is also one of the nation’s most examined laws with countless studies that been conducted to measure the law’s effectiveness—all of which have come to the same conclusion: the law saves lives.

Kids still are killed from DWI crashes, alcohol poisoning, etc., but the deaths have been significantly reduced. Why people would want to reverse this public health trend and have more teens die escapes me.

This is article #1 in a series on Support 21.

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