To the editor: College presidents from about 100 of the nation's most popular universities, including The Ohio State University, are calling on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18, suggesting that current laws actually encourage dangerous binge drinking on college campuses.
Unfortunately, those in favor of lowering the drinking age may not be aware that alcohol use costs lives. The Prevention Partnership Coalition, a Sandusky County Health Department subsidiary, was created to raise community awareness of the seriousness of the underage drinking. The Coalition’s stance is that the younger a person is when he/she takes that first drink, the more likely they are to drink and drink heavily as they become adults. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers has compiled powerful evidence regarding the consequences of lowering the drinking age. Consider:
As one of the most studied public health laws in history, research shows that the 21 law causes those under 21 to drink less and to continue to drink less throughout their 20s.
About 5,000 people under age 21 die each year due to underage drinking. This does not include sexual assaults, violence, and injuries.
The Centers for Disease Control has looked at 49 peer-reviewed studies of places that changed their drinking age and found conclusively that a 21 minimum drinking age decreases fatalities by 16 percent.
All underage drinking is unsafe drinking. Research shows that the brain continues to develop into the early 20s. The part that controls reasoning and cognitive ability takes the longest to mature; thus, underage drinking, affects memory and reasoning. Alcohol use in adolescence also decreases executive functioning, memory, spatial operations, and attention among adolescents.
The Prevention Partnership Coalition strongly urges the public to stay well informed about the consequences of underage drinking and its deadly effects.
Prevention Partnership Coordinator