Is it time to lower the drinking age to 18?
Is it time to lower the drinking age to 18?While the recent tussle between the Centre and the Delhi government over the lowering of drinking age from 25 to 18 has its fair share of coverage, the need of the hour is to analyse just how this can change lives and communities before a decision is taken. While AAP considers the pros and cons of lowering the drinking age, even as BJP holds onto moral ground and propounds abstinence, the question arises about just how fair it is to the youth of the nation that they cannot drink before the age of 25? Let us examine both sides of the issue.
1. Right to serve in military, but no right to drink? : If an 18 year old can vote and serve in the military, why can he or she not be trusted to have the right to make a decision about drinking alcohol rather than being barred from doing the same?
2. Tolerance does not come with age - It has been argued that 18 year olds have less tolerance. Tolerance has a lot more to do with responsibility and very little to do with age. You can be responsible at 18 and irresponsible at 80. So, the question of refuting lowering of drinking on this ground stands null and void
3. Fewer alcohol related problems in countries with younger drinking age - Countries such as China, Italy and Greece where legal drinking age is lower have lesser alcohol related problems. Current laws have caused more damage and led to alcohol related deaths in countries where legal drinking age is higher.
4. Drinking occurs in public - Drinking is a public activity and 18 year olds can be easily monitored to see that they do not over imbibe. Arguments that drinking at 18 is dangerous lose their ground if we improvise supervision through peer and parents or social workers.
5. Forbidden fruit is sweetest - If barred from drinking, illegal drinking takes place and many 18 year olds have died of hooch related deaths. Moreover, uncontrolled drinking binges are more likely if alcohol consumption is barred for 18 year olds. This only complicates the problem further
6. Tried for crimes, but not allowed to drink - If the juvenile aged 16 to 18 can be tried as an adult for heinous crimes, why can he or she not be judged equally responsible enough to decide to drink or abstain from it? Many states in US allow drinking at age of 18 when it is on public premises and with parental permission. Why should India stay behind the times and limit drinking to 25 year olds?
7. Could reduce/eliminate unsafe drinking activities - All legal adult rights are gained except right to drink. This could lead to risky drinking habits and cause problems. Unsafe drinking can only be reduced if 18 year olds are treated as adults and not children.
8. Fewer drunk driving accidents in nations with lower drinking age - There is a lower incidence of drunken driving accidents in those countries where legal drinking age is 18.
9. Legalising drinking at 18 could stop thrill drinking - Within the 18 to 21 year old age bracket, it’s a thrill to drink and break the law. Eliminating the taboos could lower the thrill element as well and actually help 18 year olds to imbibe less alcohol.
10. Prohibiting drinking can be fatal - Preventing 18 year olds from freely drinking in public places can cause them to be forced to drink in unsupervised settings such as parties. Lowering the drinking age under supervision will allow drinking in a regulated environment
1. More incidence of crime - Studies have found that US states such as Michigan and Maine which reduced drinking age to 18 experienced an increase in alcohol related and fatal crimes.
2. Can lead to drug and substance abuse : Alcohol drinking can create a whole lot of associated problems such as drug abuse, unprotected intercourse, depression, anger and social evils. As 18 year olds are undergoing physical changes, introducing alcohol at this stage is like lighting a match.
3. Problem of binge drinking - 18 year olds will have less understanding of when to stop drinking and are more prone to alcohol abuse. They should not be allowed to consume alcohol or they will engage in binges.
4. Higher chances of academic failure - Drink can have a detrimental impact on the academic future of the youth. Drinking will affect their academic performance negatively.
5. Laying the foundation for alcoholism - Earlier the person begins drinking, more are the chances of becoming alcoholic later in life.
6. Younger brains are more vulnerable to alcohol - Regular consumption of drinks can harm the developing brain and stunt growth apart from affecting organisation, planning and emotional development. Society must not approve of this decision to expose the youth to the dangers of alcohol
7. Drinking could harm safety of living environment - Communities have been impacted and decision making skills have been adversely affected after mass scale consumption of alcohol. Even a single drink at the wrong time can have a lifetime of consequences.
8. Underage drinking is encouraged : If 18 year olds are allowed to drink, this may encourage 16 and 17 year olds to try it too, especially since many 18 year olds are in their social circle. Underage drinking can become a real problem if legal age of drinking is lowered to 18.
9. Could impact physical development - At 18, the human body is still growing and drinking affects the frontal lobes of the brain. This could cause mental health problems at a later stage and also impact physical development in an adverse manner
Drinking at age 18 has serious pros and cons. Whether a person is mature enough to handle his or her drinks, the question of what role age plays in this is truly important. However, if an 18 year old can vote, marry or serve in the army, he or she should be judged competent enough to decide regarding alcohol consumption. Moreover, banning drinks is not the solution, regulating them is. Drinking in supervised and regulated conditions can be the answer Delhi government is looking for, as it considers its decision to allow 18 year olds to consume alcohol.
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