Lower the USA legal alcohol drinking age from 21 to 18 -- and save lives
The Daily Hampshire Gazette
To the Editor:
It must be frustrating, not just to police and medical responders, but to the entire community, to endure a start-of-college pandemic of binge drinking, to see youth binge-drinking grow worse each passing year, and to conclude that nothing can be done to reverse this dangerous and potentially fatal activity.
In fact something can be done, and the presidents of 135 U.S. colleges and universities are urging the nation to do it:
Return the legal drinking age to 18.
These educators -- on whose sad shoulders it falls to notify parents of alcohol-related deaths and injuries -- have signed the Amethyst Initiative , urging the drinking age be rolled back to 18 as it was in the era when kids drank, but binge and competitive drinking did not have the status of a belovedly outlawed student sport.
Colleges and universities which have joined the Amethyst Initiative include Hampshire, Smith, Mount Holyoke, American International College, the system president and Amherst chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Tufts, Bennington, Clark, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Vermont state colleges, Wheaton, Salem State College, Johnson and Wales, and the University of Hartford.
Though the major lobbyist for the 21-year-old drinking age is Mothers Against Drunk Driving, its counterpart in the United Kingdom, UK MADD, believes US policy is a dangerous and ill-considered mistake, is the cause of the surge in underage binge drinking, and lobbies to retain and defend the UK's traditional 18-year-old legal drinking age.
Those who side with USA MADD and cling to the 21 drinking age must wonder if mothers in Britain love and wish to protect their children less than American mothers.
How's the 21-year-old drinking age doing in our college-rich neighborhood? The answers are all over the post-weekend Gazette, and in the overcrowded emergency room of Cooley Dickinson Hospital.
The Daily Hampshire Gazette
Northampton Massachusetts USA
Tuesday 22 September 2009
By the numbers
by Dan Crowley, Staff Writer
The Amherst Fire Department responded to 48 calls between Friday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 8 a.m., including 40 calls requiring emergency medical services. Nine calls were forwarded to other ambulance departments, including Northampton, Belchertown and Easthampton. On Saturday at 2 a.m., three mutual aid ambulances were simultaneously handling calls in addition to Amherst's three ambulances. The following is a breakdown of this weekend's emergency and fire call responses over 38 hours:
* University of Massachusetts: 23 calls, including 20 emergency calls, 16 of which involved patients who had consumed alcohol. The majority of them were under 21. Three other calls involved fire alarms.
* Hampshire College: 3 calls; one alcohol-related call and two fire alarms;
* Amherst College: 2 calls, one alcohol-related and one fire alarm;
* Town of Amherst: 11 calls, not including the colleges and university;
* Hadley: 6 calls
* Pelham and Leverett: 3 calls