February 1, 2018

Old enough to fight our wars, but not to drink?

Alternet -When it comes to the legal drinking age, the United States is out of step with the rest of the world. In more than 100 countries, the legal drinking age is 18 or 19, while only the U.S. and 11 other countries (Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Kiribati, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, Oman, Palau, Samoa, and Sri Lanka) set it at 21.

Our northern neighbor, Canada, has a drinking age of 18 or 19, depending on the province, and our southern neighbor, Mexico, sets the age at 18. Most European countries go with 18, and the others go even lower.

In fact, more countries have a legal drinking age lower than 18 than set it at 21. Those include a dozen European countries, such as Portugal, which allows drinking anything at age 16; Germany, which allows beer drinking at 16; and Switzerland, where 16-year-olds can drink beer and wine.

Setting the legal drinking age is the domain of the states, but that has not really been the case in the U.S. Although in the 1970s, more than half the states lowered the drinking age from 21 to 20, 19, or 18 as they shrugged off the hangovers of Prohibition, Congress in 1984 made the states an offer they couldn't refuse: With the enactment of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, the states could choose between raising the age to 21 or losing their federal highway funds. They went with keeping their federal dollars.


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