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Study Challenges Initiative to Lower Drinking Age to 18

FRIDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- A new study challenges the theory that lowering the minimum legal drinking age from 21 to 18 would help curb binge drinking by college students.

Some college presidents and chancellors argue that if younger students could legally drink in bars and restaurants, they might learn more moderate drinking habits, which would lead to less binge drinking at parties on college campuses. The idea is being promoted through an effort called the Amethyst Initiative, which launched in 2008.

About 135 college presidents have signed the initiative's public statement urging lawmakers to reconsider the minimum legal drinking age.

But lowering the drinking age without understanding the effects would amount to a "radical experiment," warned Dr. Richard A. Scribner, of the Louisiana State University School of Public Health.

He and his colleagues used survey data from 32 U.S. colleges to develop a mathematical model to estimate the effects that a lower drinking age would have on binge drinking at colleges. They concluded that such a move would be ineffective.

Earlier research has also found that, when alcohol is more easily available to teens and young people, alcohol-related problems, such as drunk driving, also increase.

The study is in the January issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more about college drinking.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, news release, Dec. 10, 2010

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