Editorial: 18 should be legal drinking age, again


In the U.S., turning 18 years old means one can do many things: join the military, face the death penalty,  and buy lottery tickets and cigarettes — but not alcohol.

The history of the legal drinking age in the U.S. is long and convoluted.

After prohibition was repealed in 1933, the age of majority — the age one is legally considered an adult — was 21. But in the 1970s, when the 26th amendment dropped the voting age to 18, the drinking age fell too. In 1984, congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act which told states to change the drinking age to 21, or they would lose 10 percent of their federal highway funding.

President Reagan’s commission on drunk driving released the recommendation to raise the drinking age.

In most states, the age of majority is still 18, but the drinking age has remained 21.The United States is one of a few countries, including Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Japan, Iceland, and parts of India and Canada, with drinking ages above 18.

In most countries, people can purchase alcohol at the age of 16, but must wait until 18 to purchase hard liquor.

When you take a look at the rest of the world, this restriction seems archaic. Why can we vote for the president or smoke cigarettes, but not drink alcohol? To those who argue it is because our brains are not fully developed, why are we allowed to go to war and take out loans before the age of 21? Both of those actions have a life-long impact on a person’s quality of life.

On their website Choose Responsibility, a national organization advocating for a raise in the drinking age, “Alcohol is a reality in the lives of young Americans. It cannot be denied, ignored, or legislated away.”

Choose Responsibility believes that young adults should be treated as such, and ignoring underage drinking leads to potentially dangerous consequences.

Their website states, “Current drinking laws infantilize young adults. We should not be surprised, then, by infantile behavior from otherwise responsible adults.”

We see this first-hand on UK’s campus. Frat parties, tailgates and causal dorm drinking happen constantly. Earlier this semester, the Kernel editorial board wrote a piece on creating a bar on campus.

“UK has a responsibility to students to stop demonizing alcohol and start teaching students how to drink safely,” reads the article. ”If UK allows older students to drink on campus we can begin to change the culture on our campus from ‘drinking to get drunk’ to ‘drinking responsibly.’”

We still stand by that statement, and implore others to as well. If we are holding our university to a standard that allows responsible drinking, we must do so for our nation.