Dec 23

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Editorial on the Legal Drinking Age

Greenville Daily News 12/20/2011, Page A03

Lower drinking age is no solution

ichigan abandoned lower drinking age for a rea-son; keep it at 21 If respondents to a recent MLive poll had their way, Michigan’s drinking age would no longer be 21.

When asked, “What is the best way to curb underage drink-ing?” in an online survey, the option respondents overwhelm-ingly chose was to lower it.

Fifty-five percent picked that as the solution. Other options included raising the drinking age, better alcohol education, tag-ging kegs such as what the new Michigan law requires, and even “Who cares? Underage drinking isn’t a problem.”

Nine percent selected that last option, by the way. We hope they were kidding. Underage drinking not a problem? It is a serious one with serious consequences.

Ask the families that have been destroyed.

Kids have literally drank themselves to death, dying from alcohol poisoning because they didn’t realize their bodies could only metabolize so much alcohol an hour.

And then there are the drunken driving deaths, young lives lost and families torn apart forever because young people got behind the wheel of a car after somehow getting their hands on alcohol.

Consuming too much alcohol makes adults do stupid things. Why should we expect teenagers to be any different?

Yet a lot of adults, as the MLive poll results show, think that Michigan’s efforts to stop underage drinking are wrong-headed.

The theory goes: Let them drink legally and openly, and it won’t be a big deal. They’ll be more responsible. Forbidden fruit and all that. Hey, teens younger than 18 can drink in Europe.

Well, this isn’t Europe. Alcohol plays a different role in our culture. And teens here have less access to public transporta-tion, meaning those who drink often drive, too.

Besides, we’ve been there, done that as a country.

When Michigan and much of the rest of the nation let peo-ple drink at 18, it was a disaster. Drinking and driving deaths among teenagers were worse than they are now.

Yet some adults still cling to the notion that it’s no big deal.

They feel justified in providing teens with alcohol or at least providing them with a place where they can drink, no ques-tions asked.

Hey, if they’re in the basement boozing it up with friends, at least they aren’t out posing a danger on the roads. Right?


First of all, homeowners or others who wink and look the other way, as teens drink on their property are helping them break the law and instilling habits that could end up wrecking those kids lives down the line.

It’s not OK for kids to drink alcohol, much less to get drunk.

Experts on alcoholism say the earlier kids start getting drunk, the more likely they are to abuse alcohol or become alcoholics as adults.

Be their parents and mentors, not their drinking buddies or the cool adult who buys their beverages.

Educate them about the very real dangers associated with drinking. Give them the best possible base of knowledge from which to draw when confronted with decisions regarding alco-hol both before and after they are of legal age.

And keep that age 21.

Michigan has made a lot of strides forward combating teen alcohol use, abuse and the related tragedies. Reversing course, as the majority of online respondents support, would be fool-ish in the extreme.

Thankfully, the Legislature doesn’t appear interested in doing anything of the sort. We raise a glass of unspiked eggnog to that.

The Saginaw News Voices are reprinted from other Michigan newspapers whose views do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Daily News.


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Copyright (c)2011 Greenville Daily News 12/20/2011


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