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Essay 4 (Is 18 the New 21?)

Throughout the years of the United States’ existence there have been many attempts to control the access and distribution of alcohol for the purpose of correcting the issues associated with the consumption of alcohol. These attempts began with Prohibition when the United States’ government outlawed the brewing, distribution, and purchase of all alcohol. This, however, did not prohibit the consumption and possession of alcohol. The Prohibition Era began in 1920 with the ratification of the 18th amendment and lasted until 1933 when the 21st amendment repealed it. This thirteen-year period resulted in the illegal production of alcohol, as well as underground establishments, known as speakeasies, which served individuals regardless of age. Once prohibition was repealed the minimum drinking age was left up to the states individually. At this time the majority of states ruled that the minimum drinking age would be eighteen years of age. This minimum drinking age lasted until 1984 when the federal government passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act that punished any state with a minimum drinking age lower than twenty-one years of age. Since the federal government stepped in and passed this bill, no state has considered lowering the minimum drinking age and are unwilling to suffer potential consequences of making such a decision, however the minimum drinking age has remained a hot topic nonetheless. (Choose Responsibility) One may ask if these attempts at restricting the production and consumption of alcohol have been successful? If in fact the outcome desired by raising the minimum drinking age to twenty-one years of age has not been reached, than what other avenues could there be that would solve the current issues?

When observing the world’s general minimum drinking age one will notice that the majority of countries have the age set at eighteen years of age. Of course there are different factors that lead countries in their decision such as “cultural influences and collective societal values” which then “coincide with drinking patterns.” For example, Malta, which is a small island in the Mediterranean, has a minimum drinking age of sixteen. Many Americans would balk at this idea, however one must understand the differing circumstances. Malta is a very small island, which means the main choice in transportation is walking. This alleviates the concern of drinking and driving. Another country of note would be France, which is known for its wine. France has its minimum drinking age set at eighteen years of age, like the majority of countries. If one looks at France in comparison to Malta once must realize that France is much larger than the small island of Malta, so of course drinking and driving is a bigger consideration when setting the minimum drinking age. (Crecca) This is something that France and the United States have in common. So why if France’s minimum drinking age set three years lower than the United States’? What, in relation to alcohol, is handled differently? In France the consumption of alcohol is closely tied to the Catholic faith, yet is also a social norm. The European culture also “introduces their children to drinking in their own home under the supervision of their parents.” (Pritchard) This social norm could be explained as a couple of friends meeting at a pub for a pint or two to catch up on the events of the week. This situation in contrast for an American would be a couple of friends meeting up at a bar to relax after a long week and consume two to three times the amount of alcohol. In other words, drinking alcohol in countries with a similar culture to that of France is not a taboo. It is just part of the society in which a group of people can go to the bar and have a few drinks without the need to get drunk. In a study conducted by professors at the University of Otago, in New Zealand, results showed that a lowering in the drinking age actually decreased the frequency and quantity of drinking for twenty-nine percent of the target group, which consisted of sixty-nine women and forty men. These men and women were twenty to twenty-five years of age and were enrolled at the University of Otago. The study was conducted immediately before the change in the drinking age and three months after the change. (Halberstadt) So would lowering the United States’ minimum drinking age to eighteen solve the problems that exist? Could an eighteen-year-old American be responsible enough to drink in moderation, instead of over indulging for the thrill of it?

At what age an individual is considered ‘responsible’ is another factor to consider when looking at the minimum drinking age. When observing the age restrictions in the United States there are many ages at which an individual gains certain privileges. At the age of sixteen an individual can obtain a driver’s license. At the age of eighteen one can enlist in the military, can vote in and on local, state, and federal elections and issues, as well as decide to marry one another. At the age of twenty-one at individuals are permitted to purchase and consume alcohol. So at what age can “young people [be] expected to step up and take responsibility for their own actions and become entitled to the privileges of adulthood?” (Robertson) The majority of these ‘adult privileges’ seem to be granted around the age of eighteen. So what makes the privileges of driving and drinking different? Why is one lower and one higher than the norm? When looking at the requirements to gain a driver’s license one can see that it is not simply granted. One must go through and educational course with a trained educator in order to learn about the laws and consequences if those laws are broken. One must also under go training behind the wheel with said instructor to gain practical experience. This course is completed with a pass or fail written test as well as an evaluation. If the student does not pass the final test and evaluation then the student must wait until the age of eighteen to gain a driver’s license, which brings the age back to the norm of eighteen. So when considering the higher drinking age of twenty-one; what purpose does the higher age serve? One could argue that a twenty-one year old would have a higher maturity level but that would be a rather subjective argument. If there is a need for prior education for one adulthood privilege could requiring it for the privilege of drinking solve some of the issues that we are facing today?

Another consideration one must take when considering this issue is how alcohol can affect the health of an individual. Most know of the affects that alcohol induces on the mind and body: “difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times, [and] impaired memory.” (Alcohol’s Damaging Effects on the Brain) Blackouts and memory lapses are of course more serious affects of the over consumption of alcohol. In a study conducted by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism fifty-one percent of a sample population of 772 college undergraduates had reported experiencing a blackout, and forty percent reported experiencing a blackout in the year prior to the study. An even more alarming statistic was the nine point four percent that reported experiencing a blackout within two weeks prior to the study. (Alcohol’s Damaging Effects on the Brain) Another study conducted in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in tandem with the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism looks at underage drinking as a whole and further discusses the health risks involved. The study shows that there are “subtle changes in the [developing] brain [] that have a significant impact on long-term thinking and memory skills.” The study also shows that “consuming alcohol during puberty adversely affects the maturation of the reproductive system.” This is rather concerning as of 2003, the average age of first use of alcohol was about fourteen, compared to about seventeen and a half in 1965. (Underage Drinking) Of course there are a number of factors that can influence the extent of the affects of alcohol such as: “how much and how often a person drinks; the age at which he or she first began drinking, and how long he or she had been drinking; the person’s age, level of education, gender, genetic background, and family history of alcoholism; etc.” (Alcohol’s Damaging Effects on the Brain) With today’s current prevention strategies there is over course the requirement of a license to purchase alcohol, and the consequences for breaking any alcohol related laws. However how are those policies informing the United States’ youth and young adults on alcohol and the potential health risks involved? When does prevention occur? The only prevention programs that exist today are those that are school base. These programs are not standardized and are not required which means that not everyone one will be provided the information. The more informative programs are saved for those that are dealing with the consequences of breaking an alcohol related law. Shouldn’t these policies be more proactive?

In today’s society the most prevalent time in one’s life that alcohol related issues arise is during college. A study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism showed that “about four out of five college students drink alcohol; and about half of college students who drink, also consume alcohol through binge drinking.” (College Drinking) The typical age range for individuals in college is eighteen to twenty-four year olds. This of course leaves a clear division of underage drinkers and of-age drinkers, which can be a complicated situation for friends that are on either side of that division. There is also an issue of the present culture of drinking during college years. Due to this division between underage and of-age binge drinking becomes more common. Those that are underage are put into a situation in which they must drink in secret and on rare occasions. This of course leads to a multitude of consequences. “About twenty-five percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall. 599,000 students between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol. More than 690,000 students between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four are assaulted by another student who has been drinking. More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past of year due to drinking. More than 97,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape and about 1,825 college students die each year from alcohol related unintentional injuries.” (College Drinking) With these staggering statistics one cannot be surprised that schools, such as Oklahoma State University, have begun to require freshman to under go a alcohol education course in an attempt to educate students on general alcohol knowledge. In 2008 there was also a movement supported by over “one-hundred of the best-known United States universities” to debate a lower minimum drinking age of eighteen years old in the belief “that current laws may actually encourage binge drinking.” (Crecca)

One may notice that throughout all of these issues, education is a common theme, or rather the lack there of. The universities that do require freshman to complete a alcohol education course, typically have to course online and simply require it to be completed rather than a pass or fail. These online courses also only supply students with basic information. This information can include information such as the following. That blood alcohol content, or B.A.C., is the percentage of alcohol absorbed into the bloodstream. That a twelve ounce can of beer, a five or six ounce glass of wine, and one and a quarter ounce of eighty proof liquor is equivalent to a half ounce of alcohol. That the liver is the organ that oxidizes and breaks down alcohol. That body size, type and gender affect alcohol’s absorption rate in the body. This program would also most likely mention that the legal level of intoxication is a B.A.C. of .08 for those twenty-one and older while those that are underage is .00 B.A.C. With all this information one may think that it would be plenty, but there is plenty of information that is not covered in the above information and what you do not know can have dire consequences. Things that may not be included are as follows. Carbonated drinks increase the rate at which alcohol is absorbed. A person’s state of mind while drinking alcohol can increase one’s absorption rate. Fried foods, while not being a cure for intoxication, can slow the rate alcohol is absorbed into the body. Also that most D.U.I.s are received in the morning, due to the fact that an individuals B.A.C. has not returned to the legal limit after a night of sleep. Of course there are a plethora of things students are imply not educated on. To note one of the more serious topics not discussed is serious receiving a D.U.I., a citation for driving under the influence, can be and the consequences one may have to face. To begin with the total cost of receiving a D.U.I. as of November of 2013 is roughly 15,000 dollars. This may include all or some of the following: fines, court costs, an alcohol assessment, an ADSAC class, a lawyer, an application for a modified license, a license reinstatement fee, towing, increased car insurance, and an ignition interlock device. Of course each case is based on the individual, yet the cost alone would differ many people from ever getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated. As one can see the things that one is ignorant about can simply lead to one becoming overly intoxicated or to more serious consequences such as receiving a D.U.I. Many individuals could have stayed clear of any number of these consequences if there had only been an educational course for them to learn from. (Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Oklahoma Restaurant Association)

Past and current administrations have tried to deal with the issues associated with drinking for years, beginning back in the 1920s with Prohibition. However, with every effort that has been made the issues seem to remain if not become worse. There is an organization that was established in 2008 that is currently working for a change in the minimum drinking age. This organization is called Choose Responsibility. Choose Responsibility’s goal is to create a similar to driver’s education, where an individual at the age of eighteen could participate in an alcohol education course that would educate them on alcohol. How it affects the body, the laws surrounding it, and the consequences of breaking those laws. Like driver’s education it would be a pass or fail course, if an individual were to fail than they would be required to wait until the age of twenty-one in order to gain the privilege to purchasing and consuming alcohol. Upon passing the course the privilege to drink at the age of eighteen would be incorporated into a driver’s license in order to prevent falsification. At this point in time if a state were to enact such a program they would lose ten percent of their highway appropriations, which can cost a state tens of millions of dollars. Choose Responsibility is working on legislation that would provide a state with a waiver that would prevent the ten percent loss of highway funding for up to five years in order to test out their theory. Of course the minimum drinking age will be a highly debated topic for years to come. With that in mind, what is stopping any state, or the federal government for that matter, from creating an educational program to educate young adults? This could not only be a way of combating the alcohol related issues faced today as a country regardless of what the minimum drinking age is in the future. (Choose Responsibility)

Essay 3 (Old Enough?)

Everyone that has ever had to decide on a research topic knows that it can be a struggle. Of course there are a lot of factors that go into making that decision as well. Is it something that I am interested in? Would my audience be interested in it? Would I have a strong opinion about the issue? Luckily, my classmates and I were giving a guideline at the beginning of the semester: Choose a topic that is related to your major. My major happens to be Hospitality Management, which left me with many options: hotels, restaurants, bars, any issues that affected the industry, etc. As I am a senior in my major, I decided to narrow my research topic into the field that I would like to work, Beverage Management. I brainstormed for a good week, and multiple classes, on all the possible issues that would be interesting to write about. Eventually I settled on the most controversial of the bunch: Should the drinking age be 21?
In the beginning of my research I hit a bump in the road rather quickly. Know matter what database I was using there was a surprising lack of articles that specifically addressed the United States drinking age policy. Because of this I had to think of another way to address my research. In other words, what topics relating to alcohol could I utilize for my research question? Slowly different ideas began coming to me. I could look at alcohol policies relating to age in different countries, how alcohol effects the body both short term and long term, underage drinking and colleges, etc. Once I found these other topics, that I would easily be able to use for my research, articles came out of the wood works. Of course now that I had all of these articles to choose from I had to begin reading through them in order to learn if each article could be of use and if I wanted to use it. Can you say time consuming?
This is where I hit my second obstacle, finding the time and motivation to go through the articles. I, like many students, am a very busy person. I have two part time jobs and I am very involved in my major. So taking the time to read through articles that I may not end up using was, can we say, less than thrilling? However, when push comes to shove, it is just one of those things that you have to grin and bare. So I began reading the articles. It was a slow process at first, but the more I read the more I was able to further tailor my research. I was rather surprised at what I was learning. For example in 2008 there was actually a movement to lower the drinking age to 18. At the time I was a junior in high school and had no idea until I read this article. My time in college definitely could have been different if that had been successful. Within the articles that I did read I also found a lack of evidence as to how raising the drinking age to 21 has benefited United States citizens. Not that it shows that we should lower the drinking age but there has seemed to be a noticeable increase in underage drinking and a decrease in the age of first consumption. What is being done about that?
From my research I gathered that there are small initiatives that are attempting to make a difference. For every college freshman there is a require online alcohol education course that they must take in order to enroll in the next semester. There are also mandatory one on one courses that must be taken if an underage drinker gets caught violating any laws. My question is where is the overall prevention? One of these methods is preventative but only for college students, while the other is post incident. Why not have a system similar to driver’s education that educates high school students on all there is know about alcohol?
After having completed all of my research, the creation of that education system is precisely what I want to argue for in my final essay. There are multiple obstacles that must be climbed before ever considering the legal age of drinking, but a first step in correcting some problems would be to educate our young on the general knowledge of alcohol and all of the possible consequences that lie there in.

Essay 2 (Should the Drinking Age be 21?)

My research question is, “Should the Drinking Age be 21?” Approximately four years ago a wrote a paper over the drinking age and I wanted to due further research to see if there had been any new attempts at either lowering or raising the legal drinking age. I also wanted to see if my perspective on the matter would change at all.

My research process was rather simply; I went through sources that I had used in the past to see if they would still be of use to me and found multiple connections to other sites and articles that were quite valuable to my research. I also made good use of the library’s databases.

Crecca, Donna. “Legal Drinking Age.” Our Thinking About Drinking. Brown-Forman, 1/22/2014, Web, 10/08/2014

The research titled the “Legal Drinking Age” is research pulled from a website called Our Thinking About Drinking. Our Thinking about drinking is a website dedicated to educating those that are curious about the issue of the legal drinking age, alcohol and youth, alcohol and health, over consumption, and the marketing of alcohol. The authors begin by supplying the definition of the legal drinking age being, “the legal age for the purchase of alcohol, whether on-premise or off-premise.” The authors also supply some background and history about the issue by including a chart of countries with various drinking ages as well as showing how the United State’s stance has shifted throughout its history. The authors point out that in the ‘last month (of publication) that 25.1% of people 12 to 20 years old consumed alcohol.’ Of that 25.1%, “46.8% were 18 to 20” year olds. The authors then state “100 of the best-known U.S. universities called on lawmakers to consider a national debate about the possible benefits of lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18, suggesting that current laws may actually encourage binge drinking on campuses.” Upon reading about this debate I knew that this research would benefit my own research about the drinking age as I have a similar opinion. In other words I support the stance about possibly lowering the drinking age, however there are some things in relation to that unaddressed. Is it just to be lowered or should there be required education? Also what about those 18 year olds that are still in High School?

Robertson, Bruce. “Drinking Age or Age of Responsibility.” Hospitality. Oklahoma State University. 1st May 2009. 20th Oct. 2014.

The article “Drinking Age or Age of Responsibility” is a short article in the magazine Hospitality targeting those that car about the drinking age and that can make an impact on policy in New Zealand. Robertson begins by stating that there is legislation before Parliament that is requiring a review of the Sale of Liquor Act and that there is no drinking age only an age of purchase in New Zealand. Robertson argues that Parliament should begin to look at enforcing an age of responsibility. “An age where young people are expected to step up and take responsibility for their own actions and become entitled to the privileges of adulthood.” Robertson lists these privileges as not only the consumption of alcohol but also as ‘voting, driving a motor vehicle, placing a bet, engaging in sexual activities, and going to war.’ Robertson believes that simply addressing the age of purchase only addresses the symptom rather than the cause, which is the drinking age. As we do not have differing ages for the consumption and purchase of alcohol in the United States I found Robertson’s argument to be interesting. While the age of purchase in New Zealand was 18 versus our 21, if we had a similar scenario it would create an interesting situation for colleges. Everyone would be able to drink just not purchase the alcohol. So that leads me to ask the question. Would that be a better situation compared to what we have now, half of a campus being able to drink and the other half not? Robertson also included drinking and going to war as adulthood responsibilities, which is a popular debate in the U.S.

Pritchard, Colin, Andrew Cotton, Malcolm Cox. “Under-age Drinking and Illegal Drug Use: Implications for a Progressive Social and Health Policy.” Journal of Wine Research. Oklahoma State University. 1st June 1993. 20th Oct. 2014

“Under-age Drinking and Illegal Drug Use: Implications for a Progressive Social and Health Policy” is an article about under-age drinking in the United Kingdom and how it impacts a youth’s perspective and awareness of alcohol as well as drug use and AIDS. The intended audiences are those that are concerned about under-age drinking and professionals in the field that can affect policy. Pritchard along with his fellow authors, conducted research on a “sample of 926 14 to 16 year old students, and the results showed that 38% of those 926 students were under-age drinkers.” Pritchard also claims that there is an association with under-age drinking and the use of soft and hardcore drugs. Of those 38% of students, Pritchard’s research shows that the rate of soft core drugs, mainly cannabis, is three times higher than that of non-drinkers and that 5% reported the use of hardcore drugs. Pritchard’s main findings were that “adolescents who were under-aged drinkers were more often associated with a range of negative social characteristics and with parents who smoked. That the drinker group was involved more frequently with a constellation of other problematic behaviours, which were mainly group activities and that there was a clear association found between under-aged drinking and greater frequency of drug and solvent experimentation. While I may not completely agree with all of Pritchard’s arguments there is quite a lot of validity to them. It also provides me with a source that opposes the others that I have come across thus far.

“College Drinking.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. July 2013. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/CollegeFactSheet/CollegeFactSheet.pdf. 20th Oct. 2014

“College Drinking” is an informative research article from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that discusses the consequences of abusive college drinking, the factors affecting student drinking, and how college drinking is being addressed. The intended audience could include concerned parents of incoming freshman, campus faculty and police, as well as those concerned with related policy. The author begins by explaining that drinking “has become a ritual” for college students, and that “more than 80 percent of students drink alcohol.” The author goes on to list the consequences such as the estimated 1,825 deaths, 599,000 injuries, 696,000 assaults, etc. The author then goes on to say that ‘binge-drinking rates are higher in in college students than in their non-college peers.’ The author also notes that alcohol abuse is high in schools “with strong Greek systems and with prominent athletic programs.” The author then begins to discuss the ways schools have combated alcohol abuse. Listed are strategies targeting individual students, and strategies targeting the campus and surrounding community; for individuals there are personal assessments and instruction and for campus and surrounding community required education. As for the statistics in this article I found them very informative and useful, however when it came to addressing college drinking I found the article, or rather the research, to be lacking. In my personal experience the required alcohol education that schools may or may not have does not inform students about more than they already know. Individual evaluations are only conducted after an incident relating to alcohol has taken place, in which the student has most likely learned a valuable lesson.

“Underage Drinking.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Jan. 2006. 20th Oct. 2014

“Underage Drinking” is a summary article about research conducted in conjunction by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The article discusses why adolescents drink, the risks, and prevention with the intended audience of concerned citizens and those that can affect policy. The author begins by supplying statistics from the “2005 Monitoring the Future study, an annual survey of U.S. youth,” that showed that three-fourths of 12th graders, more than two-thirds of 10th graders and about two in every five 8th graders have consumed alcohol. The author then begins to discuss some factors that lead adolescents to drink. Some of these include expectancies, how pleasurable it could be, sensitivity and tolerance, young drinkers are able to consume more than adults, personality, and hereditary factors. The author focused heavily upon hereditary factors, discussing how ‘children of alcoholics or having alcoholics within one’s family are four to ten times as likely to become alcoholics themselves.’ The author also mentions the health risk such as an impact on memory skills, harm to one’s liver, and even possible growth stunts. Upon moving to solutions the author discusses raising the prices of alcohol, increasing the drinking age, enacting zero-tolerance laws, and stepping up the enforcement of laws. I found this article to be very informative and analytical. I do believe however that it focused very heavily upon heredity reasons as to why an adolescent may drink instead of giving each possible reason its due course. The solutions listed were also solutions that have already been enacted and yet we still see adolescents partaking in alcohol.

“Alcohol’s Damaging Effects on the Brain.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2010. .

“Alcohol’s Damaging Effects on the Brain” is a summary article about research conducted in conjunction by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The article discusses both general and more serious consequences of long term and heavy consumption of alcohol, as well as possible solutions. The articles intended audience would be those that have a family member that is an alcoholic or a medical profession interested in the effects of alcohol. The author begins by listing general effects of alcohol on the brain: “difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times, and impaired memory.” Because of these effects the author claims that it is obvious that alcohol has an effect on the brain, however in a “person that drinks heavily over a long period of time may have brain deficits that persist well after he or she achieves sobriety.” One of these deficits that the author discusses is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. This is a disease split into two, the first being Wernicke’s encephalopathy that can include mental confusion, paralysis of the nerves that more the eyes, and difficulty with muscle coordination. The more serious half is Korsakoff’s psychosis, which is characterized by persistent learning and memory problems. Unfortunately there is not a cure for either part of the disease, however there are treatments that can help with the symptoms. I found this article quite informative on the more serious consequences of drinking alcohol, and I believe that it will compliment my research very well.

Barnett, Nancy P. “The Minimum Drinking Age Debate.” DATA: The Brown University Digest Of Addiction Theory & Application 27.11 (2008): 8. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.

“The Minimum Drinking Age Debate” is an article written by Nancy Barnett, PhD from Brown University. Her intended audience is anyone with an interest in the debate about the minimum drinking age: 18 to 20 year olds, college faculty, policy makers, etc. Barnett begins he argument by informing her reader that there has been “considerable media attention” given to the debate concerning the legal drinking age. She also shares that ‘the founder of Choose Responsibility, and the Amethyst Initiative lead initiated this debate and are supported by 130 college presidents and chancellors.’ Barnett admits that while there are many disagreements about the issue, both non-supporters and supporters agree about the dangerous rates of underage drinking. Barnett addresses the Amethyst Initiative’s claim that the legal drinking age should be 18 in order to be consistent with other legal rights and that the age of 21 is unrealistic because most young adults have already partaken in drinking. Barnett rebuts this by citing statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation statistic that raising the legal drinking age to 21 save approximately 25,000 lives in 1984. Barnett also claims that lowering the drinking age to 18 would progressively lower the age of “first drink and first intoxication.”
Barnett does not disagree that something needs to happen in order to curb the “rates of dangerous underage drinking,” however she does not agree with lowering the drinking age. I like this source simply because it opposes the stance that I have built through my research thus far. I do believe however that Barnett’s argument is biased and lacking vital information. She only uses one source in order to back up her point of view and leaves out the fact that Choose Responsibility wants to lower the drinking age with a required education course.

Heath, Dwight B. “The Minimum Drinking Age Debate Revisited.” DATA: The Brown University Digest Of Addiction Theory & Application 28.1 (2009): 8. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.

“The Minimum Drinking Age Debate Revisited” is an article written by Dwight Heath, PhD from Brown University. His intended audience is anyone with an interest in the debate about the minimum drinking age: 18 to 20 year olds, college faculty, policy makers, etc. After having read Barnett’s original argument Heath felt the need to respond while noting that there are points that they do agree on. Heath begins by pointing out that during the two decades that the legal drinking age has been 21 that “no one seems to have been happy with the outcomes.” Heath then refutes Barnett’s evidence that the drinking age of 21 lowered the rate of traffic accidents by pointing out that many such studies are misleading because they “ignore the role of seatbelts, air-bags, and other safety features” that appeared at that time. Heath also claims that rather than needing to simply change our policies on the matter we should also look at changing out drinking culture. For example, “ the majority of people around the world who are introduced to alcohol at an early age and learn to drink appropriately continue to drink responsibly and rarely get drunk. Heath concludes by stating that all of these points should be brought into the debate as this “prohibition-by-age appears to have been no more productive than national prohibition.” While like Barnett’s argument I believe that Heath’s argument is biased as well, I do believe he brings up valid points. Throughout my travels abroad I have witnessed first hand how our country has a unique drinking culture versus other countries. Our young adults go out with the intent to get drunk rather than to socialize. This is just another important point to add into my argument.

Choose Responsibility. Unionstreet Media Interactive, Oklahoma State University. 20th Oct. 2014.

Choose Responsibility is a website and organization dedicated to reforming the drinking age. The organization’s intended audiences are 18-20 year olds, parents, college administrators, policy makers, etc. The issue that led Choose Responsibility to come up with their solution was the division of underage drinkers and of age drinkers on college campuses. Their solution is to create a “program similar to Driver’s Education.” This program would be taught by a certified alcohol educator with at least 40 hours of instruction with sporadic community involvement. There would be a final examination for licensing and the course would be unbiased for both drinkers and abstainers. Choose Responsibility’s hope is that the drinking license would be incorporated into each states’ driver’s license in order to prevent fraudulence and would only be valid within the state of residence. The licensee would also forfeit the license upon violation of any state alcohol laws. Choose Responsibility also discusses the major roadblock for this idea. There is federal legislation that takes 10 percent of a state’s federal highway appropriation, which can amount to tens of millions of dollars. When I came across this organization I was ecstatic. My freshman year in Composition 1 I wrote a research paper over this topic arguing for this same course of action. Little did I know that there was an organization out there that was dedicated to making it happen. It will be interesting to research further into this idea and to see if there has been any recent legislation drafted in order to further it. This source will most definitely be an important part of my research paper.

Toomey, Traci L., et al. “Likelihood Of Illegal Alcohol Sales At Professional Sport Stadiums.” Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research 32.11 (2008): 1859-1864. Hospitality & Tourism Index. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.

“Likelihood Of Illegal Alcohol Sales At Professional Sport Stadiums” is a research report by Traci Toomey and company that analyzes whether or not there are illegal sales of alcohol in professional sports stadiums. Toomey’s intended audience would be those that are concerned with the illegal sale of alcohol. Toomey begins the report by explaining the reason as to why the research was conducted. While there have ‘been many studies about the illegal sales of alcohol in alcohol establishments and community festivals, there had yet to be any studies on professional sports stadiums.’ Toomey’s research included sales to under-age as well as intoxicated patrons. Toomey claims that the “overall sales rates to the pseudo-underage and pseudo-intoxicated buyers were 18% and 74%, respectively. She goes on to not that the sales to both parties is 2.9 percent as likely in the stands versus the concessions. Toomey then states that from these observations intoxicated patrons are much more likely to be served than underage patrons. In fact, “individuals who appeared to be obviously intoxicated were able to buy alcohol in nearly 3 of every 4 attempts.” Upon coming across this article I did not initially think that it necessarily would contribute to my research about the drinking age. However, I went ahead and read through it and an idea struck me. If my argument involves alcohol education, why not include mandatory education for industry workers that handle the sale of alcohol. Some states require it while others do not; Oklahoma for example does not, it is optional. Having just undergone the Responsible Alcohol Service training I cannot believe that it is not a requirement, I certainly learned some things that I should have known a long time ago.

Essay 1 (Convenience Over Health?)

What to have for breakfast this morning? It is a question that everyone asks himself or herself and the answer varies from person to person; I myself had a Herbalife shake this morning. On the other hand my roommate had a banana and a protein bar, while my mother had a breakfast of eggs and bacon. These examples are fairly healthy, regretfully for most are not options that are taken. There are those that will grab an Egg McMuffin from McDonalds on the way to work because it is cheap and convenient. Unfortunately though there are some that do not eat breakfast either because they do not know how important it is or they simply do not have the money to pay for breakfast. American’s perspective on food and the food they choose to consume has change gradually over the years and has created some negative effects such as unhealthy diets, which has lead to obesity, and overproduction that has lead to waste.As you may have noticed by simply driving down a main street in your hometown, American culture promotes fast food on a large scale. I would guess that there are easily at least four to six fast food establishments on every main street in most towns in the U.S. This creates a huge convenience factor for those that are constantly on the go, which is most of the population. Let’s be real, we are American’s after all. Plus you get more for less. Right? One would be inclined to think so, however in my experience I find that when I visit a fast food restaurant I am paying more for a lesser quality, oversized meal and that I could spend just slightly more for a correctly portioned, quality meal. While I am of this opinion I know that I am one of many. I have found that there are three opinions or situations that people fall under. The first are those like me, who know what goes into a healthy diet and takes the steps to do so. The next includes those that may know what goes into a healthy diet but due to a lack of time or caring continue to frequent fast food restaurants and supermarkets. Lastly is the group that either has a lack of education, I mean when does our education system educate us on this information, or is simply unable to afford anything but the cheap mass produced food. Sadly, regardless of which category one fall into about fourteen percent of the food that is bought goes unused and ends up getting tossed in the dumpster. (McKibben 11) So what has this lead to? Well more than a third of adults and seventeen percent of children in the U.S. are considered obese. (Miller 9) This is an overwhelming amount for the wealthiest country in the world. As observed in “Divided We Eat,” America has a unique culture when it comes to food and eating. Generally we like to place food in two categories, good or bad nutrition or to simply think in terms of daily allowances. For those in other countries, France for example, view eating as a social activity and food as a shared resource. The French, for the most part, are predictable and dine at 12:30 each day. In contrast, surveys were unable to determine a single time of day that Americans sit together and eat. (Miller 11-12) America’s problem with obesity only exacerbates the overproduction of food. Of course this is not the only time in American history that Americans have overindulged. Take alcohol for example, during the first few decades of the 19th century Americans began drinking more and more, to the point that America was face with its first public health problem. Employers were even expected to supply alcohol during the workday. This of course led to Prohibition, and everyone knows how that faired. However, while America’s first ‘binge’ was serious, today’s issue of overproduction has led to many more issues. Where did it all begin though? The time period that shows the beginning of food overproduction was just after the Great Depression. Farmers began over producing in order to increase their income. In reality what they did was deflate the value of their crops. The government did create a bail out plan in response that was part of the New Deal that was both successful and profitable. While the program was not perfect, it could be considered a good alternative to today’s subsidy regime that costs taxpayers 19 billion dollars a year that virtually does nothing to control production. In today’s fast food industry, large food companies have created marketing strategies that promote large or ‘supersized’ portions. These promotions give people the false impression that they are getting more for their money, though that is also a question of quality versus quantity. When it comes to the food that we put into our bodies, do we really want to sacrifice quality? (Pollan) So what is the solution? Those familiar with history know that Prohibition was not the answer. The government was never fully able to stop citizens from producing, selling, and consuming alcohol. Likewise, the government would be unable to restriction our everyday diet. Let’s face it; no one would want to deal with that monstrosity of a headache. We have also seen the government try to solve the problem of overproduction with New Deal policy, though in the long run was proved unsuccessful. On the other hand, the government should begin taking steps to begin correcting these situations. For example, there could be some reform within our education system. This might include something as simple as ensure the meals served in the cafeteria is a wholesome meal, versus a slice of pizza or the low quality cafeteria food our schools are known for. Or it could be a mandatory class for every freshman that educates students not only on what a healthy diet consists of but how to construct a healthy diet depending on the varying situations they may end up in. As for overproduction, the government could institute a policy that gradually reduced the amount of crops produced over a large time period, say fifteen years, to a manageable amount of production, while providing information to producers that while it may look like a gradual decrease in income the value of their product with increase, therefore not effecting their income. These may or may not be valid solutions, however America as a whole needs to wake up and begin working on a lasting solution before its unhealthy lifestyle becomes worse.

Blog Post 13

For this blog post we had to supply our outline as well as a sample of our argument.

Introduction:
I would like to discuss the history of alcohol in my introduction. Mainly a historical approach that leads to the present day issue at hand. Prohibition

Thesis: I believe the drinking age should be lowered to the age of 18, however I believe that there should be strict regulations surrounding this change. These regulations would involve a required alcohol education course that would be pass or fail.

Point 1:
Worldwide Drinking
-Underage Drinking
-Our Thinking About Drinking

Point 2:
Age of Responsibility
-Drinking Age or the Age of Responsibility

Point 3:
Alcohol & Health
-Under-age Drinking and Illegal Drug Use: Implications for a Progressive —Social and Health Policy
-Underage Drinking
-Alcohol’s Damaging Effects on the Brain

Point 4:
Age Gap on College Campuses
-College Drinking
-Underage Drinking
-The Minimum Drinking Age Debate
-The Minimum Drinking Age Debate Revisited
-Likelihood Of Illegal Alcohol Sales At Professional Sport Stadiums

Point 5:
General Lack of Knowledge
-Our Thinking About Drinking
-College Drinking
-Underage Drinking
-Alcohol’s Damaging Effects on the Brain

Conclusion:
For my conclusion I plan on discussing my final opinion on what the drinking age should be. After laying that out I will point out the major roadblock that stands in the way, federal legislation, and then what steps that can be taken at this point in time.
-Choose Responsibility
-Likelihood Of Illegal Alcohol Sales At Professional Sport

Here is the sample of my paper over my first point about worldwide drinking:

When observing the world’s general minimum drinking age one will notice that the majority of countries have the age set at eighteen years of age. Of course there are different factors that lead countries in their decision such as “cultural influences and collective societal values” which then “coincide with drinking patterns.” For example, Malta, which is a small island in the Mediterranean, has a minimum drinking age of sixteen. Many Americans would balk at this idea, however one must understand the differing circumstances. Malta is a very small island, which means the main choice in transportation is walking. This alleviates the concern of drinking and driving. Another country of note would be France, which is known for its wine. France has its minimum drinking age set at eighteen years of age, like the majority of countries. If one looks at France in comparison to Malta once must realize that France is much larger than the small island of Malta, so of course drinking and driving is a bigger consideration when setting the minimum drinking age. (Crecca) This is something that France and the United States have in common. So why if France’s minimum drinking age set three years lower than the United States’? What, in relation to alcohol, is handled differently? In France the consumption of alcohol is closely tied to the Catholic faith, yet is also a social norm. The European culture also “introduces their children to drinking in their own home under the supervision of their parents.” (Pritchard) This social norm could be explained as a couple of friends meeting at a pub for a pint or two to catch up on the events of the week. This situation in contrast for an American would be a couple of friends meeting up at a bar to relax after a long week and consume two to three times the amount of alcohol. In other words, drinking alcohol in countries with a similar culture to that of France is not a taboo. It is just part of the society in which a group of people can go to the bar and have a few drinks without the need to get drunk. In a study conducted by professors at the University of Otago, in New Zealand, results showed that a lowering in the drinking age actually decreased the frequency and quantity of drinking for twenty-nine percent of the target group, which consisted of sixty-nine women and forty men. These men and women were twenty to twenty-five years of age and were enrolled at the University of Otago. The study was conducted immediately before the change in the drinking age and three months after the change. (Halberstadt) So would lowering the United States’ minimum drinking age to eighteen solve the problems that exist? Could an eighteen-year-old American be responsible enough to drink in moderation, instead of over indulging for the thrill of it?

Blog Post 14: The Journey Thus Far

Everyone that has ever had to decide on a research topic knows that it can be a struggle. Of course there are a lot of factors that go into making that decision as well. Is it something that I am interested in? Would my audience be interested in it? Would I have a strong opinion about the issue? Luckily, my classmates and I were giving a guideline at the beginning of the semester: Choose a topic that is related to your major. My major happens to be Hospitality Management, which left me with many options: hotels, restaurants, bars, any issues that affected the industry, etc. As I am a senior in my major, I decided to narrow my research topic into the field that I would like to work, Beverage Management. I brainstormed for a good week, and multiple classes, on all the possible issues that would be interesting to write about. Eventually I settled on the most controversial of the bunch: Should the drinking age be 21?
In the beginning of my research I hit a bump in the road rather quickly. Know matter what database I was using there was a surprising lack of articles that specifically addressed the United States drinking age policy. Because of this I had to think of another way to address my research. In other words, what topics relating to alcohol could I utilize for my research question? Slowly different ideas began coming to me. I could look at alcohol policies relating to age in different countries, how alcohol effects the body both short term and long term, underage drinking and colleges, etc. Once I found these other topics, that I would easily be able to use for my research, articles came out of the wood works. Of course now that I had all of these articles to choose from I had to begin reading through them in order to learn if each article could be of use and if I wanted to use it. Can you say time consuming?
This is where I hit my second obstacle, finding the time and motivation to go through the articles. I, like many students, am a very busy person. I have two part time jobs and I am very involved in my major. So taking the time to read through articles that I may not end up using was, can we say, less than thrilling? However, when push comes to shove, it is just one of those things that you have to grin and bare. So I began reading the articles. It was a slow process at first, but the more I read the more I was able to further tailor my research. I was rather surprised at what I was learning. For example in 2008 there was actually a movement to lower the drinking age to 18. At the time I was a junior in high school and had no idea until I read this article. My time in college definitely could have been different if that had been successful. Within the articles that I did read I also found a lack of evidence as to how raising the drinking age to 21 has benefited United States citizens. Not that it shows that we should lower the drinking age but there has seemed to be a noticeable increase in underage drinking and a decrease in the age of first consumption. What is being done about that?
From my research I gathered that there are small initiatives that are attempting to make a difference. For every college freshman there is a require online alcohol education course that they must take in order to enroll in the next semester. There are also mandatory one on one courses that must be taken if an underage drinker gets caught violating any laws. My question is where is the overall prevention? One of these methods is preventative but only for college students, while the other is post incident. Why not have a system similar to driver’s education that educates high school students on all there is know about alcohol?
After having completed all of my research, the creation of that education system is precisely what I want to argue for in my final essay. There are multiple obstacles that must be climbed before ever considering the legal age of drinking, but a first step in correcting some problems would be to educate our young on the general knowledge of alcohol and all of the possible consequences that lie there in.