3 American states could soon lower drinking age to 18

© Siphiwe Sibeko
Americans who ask why the legal age for going to war is lower than that for buying alcohol could finally get a break: three states are considering lowering the drinking age, believing it will go a long way to combatting accidental deaths and bingeing.

New Hampshire, Minnesota and California have been reviewing pieces of legislation that would bring their state laws in line with much of the rest of the world’s – which would mean lowering the legal drinking age from 21 to 18. The overarching logic concerns curbing underage binge drinking and getting teens to relax about fake IDs and to drink socially, the way Europe does.

The New Hampshire legislation would allow 18-year-olds to drink beer and wine, but with a caveat: they still can’t drink liquor, and when they do drink, an adult over 21 has to accompany them, ABC reported on January 5, as a state representative proposed the bill.

A federal ruling in Minnesota could achieve the same, with backers saying it would greatly improve the problem of underage irresponsible binge drinking. Two new bills are being proposed by longtime advocate of the tactic, Rep. Phyllis Kahn. Although the governor, Mark Dayton, is set to be an obstacle, Kahn believes there’s reason for optimism, according to Pioneer Press. The state would no longer have to give up federal funding for the measure.

And a slightly altered (better, for some?) version of the two bills above is being looked over in California. The state will vote next November on an initiative that would bring the age down to 18 for every type of alcohol.

Unlike in Minnesota, California will have to give up eight percent of federal funding for highways, but they could live with that, seeing as alcohol sales would soar.

The legal age of 21 in the US has been in force since the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984.

The organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving have sharply opposed the lowering, given that some 25,000 deaths were avoided after the age was raised to 21.

Its website says that “When states had lower legal drinking ages in the US, the underage drinking problem was worse. For example, before the 21 minimum legal drinking age was implemented by all states, underage drunk drivers were involved in over twice as many fatal traffic crashes as today.”

Luckily for the mothers, an increasing number of young Americans prefer marijuana to alcohol, especially since its legalization to a varying degree in different states. For example, this holds true for college students, according to a September study. It suggests that while pot is crowding out tobacco use, it does the same for alcohol.

READ MORE: Cannabis not Camels: College students now consume more marijuana than cigarettes – study

While 63 percent of college students in 2014 said that they have had an alcoholic beverage at least once in the prior 30 days, that figure is down from 67 percent in 2000, and down considerably from 82 percent in 1981.