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Debate: Should the Drinking Age be Lowered? Essay
Debate: Should the Drinking Age be Lowered? Essay
Example 1: The Drinking Age Should be Lowered
There are several reasons why proponents argue that the drinking age should be lowered. This essay will outline three main arguments in support of this view: the effectiveness of the European model, fostering responsible drinking behavior, and alleviating socio-economic restrictions.
First, proponents point to the European model as evidence that a lower drinking age can have positive effects on society. European countries generally have lower drinking ages than the United States, and some studies show that they actually experience lower rates of alcohol-related issues, such as drunk driving and binge drinking. This suggests that lowering the drinking age could potentially result in similar outcomes in the United States, reducing the occurrence of alcohol-related problems.
Second, it is argued that lowering the drinking age to 18 would help foster more responsible drinking behavior among young adults. By setting the legal drinking age at 21, the United States essentially pushes underage drinking into unsupervised environments, where adolescents have no guidance or education on responsible alcohol consumption. Making alcohol consumption legal for 18-year-olds would lead to more opportunities for responsible drinking practices, as young people would be able to learn how to drink in moderation under the supervision of their peers and older adults.
Third, the current legal drinking age of 21 disproportionately affects those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Many young adults from low-income families do not have access to safe environments where they can consume alcohol responsibly, leading them to engage in risky and potentially dangerous drinking behaviors. Lowering the drinking age would create more social settings where young people from all backgrounds can learn to drink responsibly, reducing the impact of socio-economic disparities on underage drinking issues.
Example 2: The Drinking Age Should be Lowered
In addition to the arguments presented in Example 1, proponents of lowering the legal drinking age argue that this change would be consistent with the legal rights and responsibilities conferred to the majority of 18-year-olds in the United States. This essay will discuss three further points in support of this idea: the age of legal adulthood, consistency with other legal responsibilities, and the impact on military service members.
First, at 18 years old, individuals in the United States are considered legal adults and are granted numerous rights and responsibilities. They can vote in elections, marry without parental consent, sign contracts, and potentially be drafted into the military. Proponents of lowering the drinking age argue that it is incongruent for 18-year-olds to be entrusted with these responsibilities, yet not be allowed to legally consume alcohol.
Second, lowering the drinking age to 18 would create consistency with other legal expectations placed on young adults. At 18, individuals are typically allowed to purchase and consume tobacco products and are legally responsible for their own actions. Denying legal access to alcohol for 18-year-olds seems contradictory, considering that they are allowed to participate in other potentially harmful activities.
Lastly, setting the legal drinking age to 18 would accord respect to military service members who risk their lives for their country yet are not allowed to drink alcohol. Many argue that it is a moral issue for those who are willing to fight and potentially die for their country to be denied the right to legally consume alcohol.
Example 3: The Drinking Age Should Not be Lowered
While there are arguments in favor of lowering the drinking age, there are also significant reasons cited by those who oppose the idea. This essay will present three main arguments against lowering the drinking age: harmful health effects, the risk of increased traffic accidents, and the current legal drinking age's success in reducing alcohol-related issues.
First, opponents of lowering the drinking age point to the potential harmful health effects associated with alcohol consumption in young adults. Adolescent brains are still developing and are highly vulnerable to the detrimental effects of alcohol. Heavy alcohol use during this time can interfere with the development of critical brain functions, resulting in long-term cognitive deficits and increased risk of addiction.
Second, research indicates that a higher legal drinking age leads to fewer alcohol-related traffic accidents and fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the current legal drinking age of 21 saves approximately 900 lives per year in the United States. Opponents argue that lowering the drinking age would result in a surge of alcohol-related traffic accidents, placing the lives of many young drivers at risk.
Finally, opponents of lowering the drinking age assert that the current law has been successful in reducing underage drinking and its associated issues. Rates of binge drinking, drunk driving, and other alcohol-related issues have decreased since the drinking age was raised to 21 in the 1980s. Lowering the drinking age could reverse these trends, potentially leading to increased alcohol abuse.
Example 4: The Drinking Age Should Not be Lowered
In addition to the points outlined in Example 3, opponents offer a number of other reasons for maintaining the current legal drinking age. This essay will discuss three additional arguments against lowering the drinking age: underage drinking prevention programs, maintaining societal standards, and the potential impact on alcohol sales and marketing.
First, opponents point out that the 21-year-old legal drinking age has provided support and impetus for enforcement and prevention programs aimed at curbing underage drinking. If the drinking age were to be lowered, these programs would undoubtedly be impacted, potentially reducing their effectiveness. This poses a significant threat to efforts that promote responsible alcohol use and deter binge drinking among young people.
Second, those against lowering the drinking age highlight the importance of societal standards in influencing individual behavior. Maintaining a higher legal drinking age sends a clear message that alcohol consumption should be approached responsibly and is not an activity intended for those in their adolescent years. By lowering the drinking age, society may inadvertently promote alcohol use as acceptable and even encouraged for those who are still not fully matured.
Lastly, opponents argue that lowering the drinking age could result in alcohol producers and marketers targeting even younger consumers. With a lower legal drinking age, businesses would be more likely to attempt to sell alcohol to younger individuals, which could encourage alcohol use and abuse among adolescents and further contribute to the health risks associated with underage drinking.
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