18 could mean so much more

June 2, 2008
By Kevin Robb, Winchester, VA

18 Could Mean so Much More

At 18 years of age, a person’s real life starts. Most people are on their way or close to their college careers. With all the responsibility an 18-year old holds, should it really be a crime to sit down and enjoy beer?
Even though an 18 year old in the US can’t drink, is it odd that they hold all other privileges? An 18 year old can buy cigarettes, drive, vote, can be tried as an adult in the court of law (put to death), and can sacrifice their life for their country. Cigarettes are extremely harmful to the body and can cause life-threatening disease such as cancer, so why are they able to poison kids as young as 18? The answer will always be money. In the wonderful USA, money is everything and with the intake of the massive amounts of money tobacco brings in, our economy couldn’t take the loss of the millions of dollars teens spend on tobacco every year. Because of this, government officials will never raise the legal age to buy tobacco products or put any serious bans on tobacco use.
But then again alcohol is very expensive and when used responsibly quite harmless, so why isn’t it legal at 18? The answer is that the alcohol companies are large but still cannot compare to the extensive amounts of money tobacco brings in each year. Think about the moral side of this argument, sure everyone knows that both cigarettes and alcohol are harmful and send many people to their death beds each year, but the reality is that alcohol related deaths are miniscule compared to that of tobacco. Rough estimates in 2007 showed that alcohol related deaths were at 25,000 people a year, while cigarettes on the other hand contributed to a sickening 400,000 deaths. Alcohol causes just one sixteenth the amount of lives cigarettes do.
European law says that the drinking age is 16 and the driving age is 18 for safety and common sense purposes. But I believe there should be a drinking system similar to the procedures a teen must take to earn his license. At age 16, a teen should be allowed in his own house and under supervision of their parents, to be educated and gradually taught to handle alcohol. Some might say a 16 year old body can’t handle alcohol, But as I see it, if teen’s are given the right amount, and gradually consume alcohol safely; that by the time they are 18 they will be able to drink being responsible and without need of worry. But again, like a driver’s license, a test must be passed to prove a teen’s awareness of the drug. Also a parent’s signature must be signed at the time of the test saying the teenager is ready.

Recent studies in from the New York Times newspaper says that colleges all over America are suffering more deaths due to alcohol than ever before. A young adult going into college are all of a sudden given huge freedom and easy access to alcohol. If the college students of today had the experience and knowledge of using alcohol in reasonable ways, many of these deaths could be avoided. Ill give you a quote from a friend of mine that this year is a freshman at Radford University, “at any given night there are three parties to choose from, I can put as much fun as you have in a whole weekend into a Monday night, I love college.” So alcohol can’t be kept out of a college students hands; but with awareness, and knowledge, keeping that person safe can be left up to them without worries.
Some may be happy with the way things are, and some might say things should change. I believe lowering the drinking age to 18 would provide very beneficial education to the teens of America. Knowledge along with personal experience will make for a stronger people in out American community. And I will ask you again should it really be a crime at 18 years of age to sit down and have a beer?

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