New Hampshire Considers Lowering the Legal Drinking Age

House Bill 1606 would suggest that the drinking age be lowered from 21 to 18 in New Hampshire. The reason for the change?? Bill 1606 states that the higher drinking age has lead to an overabundance of alcohol related accidents, poisonings and deaths. The general court suggests that by lowering the drinking age to 18 years of age they will be “tackling a major health issue” (Olson).

However, there is no evidence to suggest that lowing the drinking age to 18 will improve the high death toll related to underage drinking; rather, the research strongly supports the opposite.

“The weight of the scientific evidence, evaluated by many experts and government agencies, demonstrates that the minimum legal drinking age of 21 years is effective public policy for reducing underage drinking and preventing the negative consequences that can result from underage drinking. The evidence suggests that making alcohol more available by reducing the minimum legal drinking age to 18 years will lead to an increase in drinking and related harms,” (Olson).

The Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 was Federal legislation that rose every state’s legal drinking age to 21yr. Oregon rose the drinking age from 18yr to 21yr in 1970, head of many other states in the US. The Legal Drinking Age Act was a great accomplishment that has lead to fewer alcohol-related causalities.

However, some prevention specialists suggest we can do even better. They state that rising the drinking age to 25yr instead of 21yr may be more beneficial for developing minds. The adolescent brain does not complete its development until age 25, and at that point is more resistant to the damage inflicted by alcohol use. ”Brain imaging and studies of event-related potentials have demonstrated that heavy alcohol consumption during adolescence and young adulthood also can lead to subtle but significant abnormalities in brain structure and function” (National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism).

Raising the drinking age also curtails drinking on college campuses, where binge drinking runs rampant. “73 percent of college students report that they drink ‘at least sometimes’, and the average male freshman in college reportedly drinks an average of 7.4 alcoholic beverages per week” (Elements Behavioral Health). Raising the legal drinking age to 25yr would make most college students underage, therefore making alcohol accessibility more difficult.

In spite of the strong research that supports raising the drinking age, there is little support from the public to raise the legal drinking age to 25. It’s a very interesting debate, what are your thoughts?

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