The Minimum Legal Drinking Age

The minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) should be raised to 21 if the government is serious in tackling various problems related to alcohol. This should be done to restrict youth access to alcohol because it will be hard for them to purchase alcohol. A higher minimum legal drinking age is of great use in preventing alcohol related deaths and injuries. This measure should be put in place because the youths are the most likely group to abuse alcohol; for instance drinking in excess of it. Drinking to excess can cause accidents, health problems (diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver) or death. If there are laws to ensure that no one starts drinking early in life, then there is a probability that they may drink in moderation and not get addicted to it later in life. As compared to adults, youths are more prone to addiction (Single 243).

A higher minimum legal drinking age reduces the number of alcohol related problems among the youth. A low minimum legal drinking age results to an increased rate of motor vehicle crashes and deaths of young people (Wagenaar, 1993). The minimum legal drinking age enforcement should include penalties for merchants and adults who sell or supply alcohol to minors.  That means that for every number of minors arrested for alcohol consumption, there should be a corresponding number of merchants and adults facing criminal penalties.

However, even if there is such legislation, young people will still be able to drink at their homes. They will find ways to evade the laws for instance by asking older people to buy them take-away alcohol from bars or supermarkets. However, it will never be easy for them to do that. For instance, a 17 year old will no longer be able to get away with drinking in a bar anymore but if the minimum legal drinking age is 18, it is much easy for any teenager to get away with drinking of alcohol in a pub. According to Wagenaar, 1993, even though many youths still drink alcohol, they consume less and they experience few deaths and injuries. When the minimum legal drinking age is set at 21, youths of age below 21 years consume less alcohol overall and they continue drinking through their early twenties (Single 243).

This legislation does not deal with the fundamental issue of why people want to consume alcohol in excess. For that reason, education is a better solution. In education youths can get to know the various dangers of excessive consumption of alcohol and therefore encourage the youths to drink moderately. Further, the government should impose higher taxes on alcohol. As a result, the cost of alcohol increases. Because youths have lower disposable income, increased cost of alcohol has a noteworthy effect in reducing the demand of alcohol amongst them. The more the demand of alcohol is reduced, the more the problems of over-consumption are reduced. This legislation increases the government revenue. On the other hand, this policy may boost the incentive for importation of cheap alcohol from abroad. Further, the demand of alcohol maybe inelastic and this makes it not effective in reducing consumption (Single 243).

In practice, there is not much that authorities can do to transform the social and individual attitudes towards alcohol, which is the root cause of most cases of alcohol abuse. In the United States, the minimum legal drinking age is 21 but there are still numerous cases of alcohol related problems (Single 243).However, it is significantly hard for youths to consume alcohol on a regular basis.

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