France is considering raising its drinking age. Should we consider lowering ours?
A bill under consideration would raise the legal drinking age in France from 16 to 18 for wine and beer, according to published reports. Some analysts believe it has a good chance of passing.
In the U.S., of course, the legal drinking age is 21. But many – including myself – believe it should be lowered to 18.
There are many sides and angles to what constitutes a safe legal age for consumption of alcoholic beverages. For me, if 18-year-old men and women can serve in the army, and fight and risk their lives in combat, then they too should be allowed to drink wine and beer at that age.
There is also the issue that the current laws in the U.S. are merely circumvented—that is, if young people want alcohol, they can get it. I’m not suggesting alcohol be available to people under 18 (though there are plenty of people under that age who drink). But it has to do with the current laws being unenforceable.
Vivienne Sosnowski reminds me of this, as I've just read her excellent book on Prohibition, When The Rivers Ran Red : How California's Legendary Winemakers Survived Prohibition (Palgrave Macmillan, $26.95, 256 pages), about when wineries were forced to dump their wines. It’s a great read that’s due for publication later this year, and I plan to review it soon.
One of the main themes is that by effectively banning the production and sale of alcoholic beverages, our country set out to enforce an unenforceable law. And in the process of implementing those laws, we made criminals out of people who made wine for their livelihood, which led to many fines and jail terms and created layers of corruption within law enforcement.
In our country, many of us have tried to educate our children about responsible drinking and that too should be a central part of health education.
I'm curious about how you line up on the drinking age question. Should the legal age in our country be dropped from 21 to 18, and why or why not?