Flashlight ON: Underage Drinking

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A recent cover article of the Torch discussed the ongoing debate regarding the national minimum drinking age. This was in response to the Amethyst Initiative, a nationwide organization made up of 129 college presidents formed in July asking the United States Congress to lower the nationwide minimum drinking age from 21 to 18.

The Torch article seemed to reflect the opinions of University officials by downplaying the importance of the initiative and portraying popular student opinion as opposed to the measure.

The three students who were quoted were freshmen, who at the time had only been enrolled in the University for little more than a week, and probably had not experienced enough underage drinking so far to comment on the potential effects of lowering the national minimum drinking age. One of the students questioned was not even 18-years-old and wouldn’t be affected if the minimum drinking age were lowered immediately.

The article also mentions the fact that liquor-law violations taking place on-campus rose steadily in 2006, however did not question weather this was due the minimum drinking age.

The United States is the only country in the Western Hemisphere where the minimum drinking age is 21, with the exception of Paraguay, where drinking in bars and restaurants is restricted to those over 21, while those 18 may legally buy alcohol from a supermarket or liquor store. A few other nations around, including Japan, United Arab Emirates and Iceland, have a national minimum drinking age of 20, while the majority prohibit alcohol purchase for those under the age of 18 or less.

The prohibition of alcohol for those under 21 in the United States has resulted in a binge-drinking culture around our nation’s campuses as well as increased rates of alcohol poisoning and other alcohol-related diseases. While it is true that the amount of underage adults who engage in alcohol consumption has declined, those who chose to engage in drinking are drinking more. 90% of alcohol consumed by those between the ages of 18-20 is consumed during an episode of heavy drinking.

The State of New York only prohibits the sale of alcohol to minors. Consumption of alcohol by minors, once purchased or acquired, is legal.

Statistics on underage drinking come from Choose Responsibility

-Mario Vergara

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