Lowering Vermont’s Drinking Age

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Twenty-three years ago Vermont
raised its drinking age to 21 to meet the federal requirements of a National
Minimum Drinking Age Act. But within the
last few years, some Vermonters have advocated for lowering the age back to
18. Currently, the Senate Appropriations
committee is examining a bill that would create a task force to study such a
proposal. We hear from John McCardell,
the former President of Middlebury College, who has led the effort with his non-profit
group, Choose Responsibility.
He says 18 to 20 year-olds should be educated
and then allowed to choose whether or not to drink. And we hear from
John Searles, a UVM Psychiatry Professor and a Substance Abuse Analyst
with the Vermont Department of Health. He believes a change to the current law would
undo progress made against underage drinking and drunk driving accidents. (Listen)

Also, one Vermont
marathon runner is preparing for the Olympic trials this Sunday in Boston.
We talk with Kasie Enman who has a
personal best time of 2:44:06. (Listen)

And, some people may think of Latin as a dead language, but
we visit one Northeast Kingdom
classroom where the subject has been taught continuously for at least a
century. (Listen)


Listener Emails–

Don from Weybridge-

When I turned 18, I was a NYS resident and 18 was the drinking age. I spent that summer working in New Jersey and my father made a near perfect fake ID for me for the summer. That way I was able to go to where the girls were. In the fall I started 4 years of college in NYS and didn’t drink at all after the first few months (even though it was legal). Quite a few of my dorm mates were always drunk, flaunting their new found freedom from parents.

It all comes down to personal responsibility, not age. Personal responsibility is sadly lacking throughout our society, regardless of age of the individual. How you teach it, I don’t know. I do, however favor strict and serious consequences for drinking and driving. Why should someone be allowed any violations without jail time? Their "fun" puts the rest of us, unfairly, at terrible risk.

I always have had a choice in drinking. I rarely drink now. I fail to understand why it’s so celebrated. Why can’t some young adults be proud of what they do sober? Drinking for them produces a level of pride in their actions that seems unattainable when they’re sober. (Certainly, lots of other things fit into the mix for young people.) Giving responsibility doesn’t make someone responsible. Like so many things, teaching is often best accomplished through example and behavior.

Timothy from Waltham-

Mr McCardell is way out of touch. I was a Middlebury student at Middlebury when the drinking age was 18 and we were out of control with binge drinking. At 18 you will have lots of 16 and 17 year olds drinking at 21 you have 18, 19 and 20 year olds drinking. There is nothing responsible about a 16, 17 or 18 year old drinker. At that age, they will drink to get drunk. That is the only reason to drink in their mind. The problem is that the rest of us will be at risk of being killed by all of the new young drunk drivers. When I was at Middlebury College 1/20 students had a car. Now almost every
student has a car at college. Do the math.


I worked for two years as a Student Assistance Counselor in a Vermont
public middle/high school. I saw 13-14 year old students who are alcohol dependent. One student has an arrangement with a co-worker of her mother who provides alcohol in a prearranged place. This 9th grader has offered alcohol to her 6th grade cousin. The argument that teens are already obtaining alcohol is NOT a justification for lowering the legal age–rather it would simply make it easier even younger children to have access. We need more effective prevention and intervention programs. How about restricting the advertising of alcohol on radio and tv programs aimed at teens/children?

Bob from Bath, NH-

Listening to the opening overture to the present program, I got
thinking. If the drinking age is lowered today to 18, what will happen in another 25 years? Pressure to lower it to 15? Where will the slippery sloop stop?

Paul from Bridport-

Alcohol is a serious and destructive psychotropic drug about which no
where enough is know or appreciated. The lowering of the drinking age
is both dangerous and a dodge. We must study the effects of alcohol on
the brain. This is the responsible way a modern, scientifically based community must proceed regarding this powerful drug.




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