Choose Responsibility Urges Lawmakers to Consider Comprehensive Solutions to Binge Drinking Problem in 2010

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In 2009, state governments from New Jersey and Texas to Michigan and California debated different approaches to the problem of toxic drinking by young adults. Lawmakers considered instituting medical amnesty policies and new peer education initiatives to curb the persistent problems associated with binge drinking. Choose Responsibility urges educators, parents, health officials, and policy makers to consider comprehensive alternatives to the minimum drinking age as these groups look for more effective solutions in 2010.

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We encourage policy makers to recognize this desire for a debate about the drinking age by considering new policy alternatives. With so many lives at risk, the status quo simply cannot stand.

In 2009, Choose Responsibility helped propel the issues of toxic binge drinking and the legal drinking age onto the national stage with a variety of major media appearances and grassroots education campaigns. From feature stories on CBS’ 60 Minutes and Comedy Central’s Colbert Report to presentations at major policy conferences and the launch of the Get REAL campaign for student governments, it is clear that there is now widespread interest in a national debate about the consequences of the 21 year-old drinking age. As lawmakers look forward to upcoming policy debates in 2010, Choose Responsibility urges them to consider comprehensive alternatives to the minimum drinking age that will create a safer culture of alcohol for young adults.

In the past year, state lawmakers all across the country debated different policy approaches as they sought solutions to the persistent problem of toxic drinking by young adults. College and university administrators also explored new peer education initiatives to address binge drinking on campuses nationwide. Meanwhile, court cases in South Carolina highlighted the contradictions inherent in a law that denies legal rights to a group of lawful adults.

Taken together, these developments illustrate that policy makers are learning that enforcement alone is not the only solution to a public health crisis that claims the lives of thousands of people under the age of 21 off the highways each year. While this news is encouraging, the time has come to address these issues with a comprehensive program of education and licensing that respects the rights of 18-20 year-olds and gives parents the tools they need to educate their young adults about responsible alcohol consumption. Choose Responsibility looks forward to exploring these types of comprehensive solutions in 2010.

“In the public’s mind, the question of the 21 year-old drinking age is far from settled,” said Choose Responsibility President John McCardell. “As Choose Responsibility looks ahead to its efforts in 2010, we encourage policy makers to recognize this desire for a debate about the drinking age by considering new policy alternatives. With so many lives at risk, the status quo simply cannot stand.”

Choose Responsibility is a nonprofit organization founded to stimulate informed and dispassionate public discussion about the presence of alcohol in American culture and to consider policies that will effectively empower young adults age 18 to 20 to make mature decisions about the place of alcohol in their own lives. For more information, visit http://www.chooseresponsibility.org.

Contact: Nick DeSantis
Office: (202) 543-8760
E-mail: ndesantis (at) chooseresponsibility (dot) org

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