I go both ways on this. One argument goes that a lower drinking age would actually lead to more responsible drinking. If young people were allowed to drink at 18, they would be less likely to binge drink. (Read one example of this argument here.)
Our local Coalition for Alcohol and Drug Free Teenagers takes the other view. Its members argue the consequences of underage drinking, including the impact of alcohol on the developing brain, are too great to take risks and that existing laws must be more strongly enforced.
In a guest column appearing in this Sunday's Chapel Hill News, retired judge and coalition member Ron Bogle says it's time the community gave as much attention to the underage drinking problem as, say, cellphones. Here is an excerpt.
Gabrielle Acevedo, Nazareth College; Stephen Adelipour, Boston University; Matthew Ainsworth, Villanova University; Molly Ammon, University of Florida; Justin Anderson, University of South Carolina; Connie Blount, University of Kentucky; Mark Davis, NC State University; Matthew Grape, Duke University; Meaghan Bosch, Southern Methodist University; Victoria Cheng, Ithaca College; and Cortland Smith, University of North Carolina.
This random sampling of collegians all died from causes associated with alcohol use. In Chapel Hill, there are many more stories of alcohol-related death, injury, emergency medical care, crime, and academic harm. But does anyone really care?
While cellphone-distracted drivers are a public safety risk, it’s certain far more deaths and injuries here relate to misuse of alcohol. Even more, excessive alcohol use by collegians poses both short- and long-term health and safety risks.
Unfortunately, too many college towns like Chapel Hill have a long history of alcohol complacency, making them passive contributors to the short- and long-term consequences. Instead, ignoring the known health dangers, some even defend excessive use of alcohol, an addictive drug responsible for killing more teens than all other drugs combined, as some mythical “rite of passage.”Like cellphones, Chapel is a small town, but with lots of very alcohol-impaired young people. And like the cellphone, it should be a “big, big concern.” The question is, what’s being done about it?
Look for Judge Bogle's full column Sunday in The Chapel Hill News and let us know what you think.