I stumbled upon an article from the Guardian today talking about how some U.S. states are considering lowering the legal drinking age from 21 to 18.
There are proponents and opponents of the change. MADD argues against it, saying that young drivers’ deaths are down 13% since the legal age was raised to 21. However, this is meaningless without context. How much did the overall rate decline in that time? The general attitude of society towards DUI has changed a lot in 20 years, it could be that all deaths are down by even more than 13%. Drilling even deeper, how many deaths were alcohol-related before and after the change? So, since I don’t have enough data to make a call empirically, so I’ll go with my gut: I think it’s a good idea, for most of the reasons that the article states: basically that kids are going to drink anyway, you might as well let them do it openly and (relatively) safely.
As a potential bar-owner, I’m not sure how I feel about it, though. The younger a person is, the less likely they are to have much disposable income, so they may not be good potential customers anyway. And a bar that appeals to young people has to recruit new clientele constantly, whereas older crowds are more steady. Also, I don’t want people “learning” to drink in my establishment, with all the associated vomit, fights and other drama. Of course, the way I market my bar will be far more influential to what age my customers are than any change in law that may or may not filter up from the states.
As an aside, one of the other reasons they cite for lowering the limit is so returning soldiers will be able to drink legally. One politician says:
“If you can take a shot on the battlefield you ought to be able to take a shot of beer legally.”
It’s a great soundbite, of course, but who drinks beer in shots?