Archive for March, 2009

NYT Economix Blog: Drinking Ages Worldwide

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

In the past week, the editors of the New York Times‘ Economix blog have discussed a few different maps that illustrate trends around the U.S., from the change in housing prices to the spread of Wal-Mart stores. Earlier this week, the editors broadened the scope of their discussions by using a different map – one that shows the legal drinking age in countries around the world. Check out the map at the Times’ website, and join in the discussion in the comments section.

Reason Responds To 60 Minutes

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Reason Senior Editor Radley Balko posted his response to [CR]’s 60 Minutes appearance on his “Hit & Run” blog over the weekend. Check out his post here and join in the lively discussion in the comments section.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Happy Friday, everyone. We hope you enjoyed the live [CR] chat on Wednesday night – it was great hearing some ideas from our supporters about how we can build momentum after our appearance on 60 Minutes. Stay tuned to our newsletter for upcoming announcements of future events and chats. Here’s the latest round of stories on binge drinking and the legal drinking age from across the country:

[CR] News:

Farmington Focus, a Connecticut prevention group, will host a forum on the legal drinking age at Farmington High School next week. Dr. Cheryl Barnard of St. Joseph’s College will participate in the forum as a panelist who favors a discussion of alternatives to Legal Age 21. “Is 21 the best? Is 18 the best?” Barnard asked. “As a college administrator, and from all you hear on the news and see on Facebook and all of the other media, we know that 21 isn’t working.” Check out the details at WFSB-TV.

The debate over the legal drinking age often inspires some heated discussion, but Oglethorpe University President Lawrence Schall told Georgia’s Sunday Paper that one thing is clear: “We know that the status quo is not working.¬† I have not heard all the evidence and weighed it critically. I do know, however, that a culture of dangerous, clandestine drinking exists everywhere, and we ought to be talking about all the ways in which we can creatively make life safer for our children.”

As we mentioned earlier in the week, medical amnesty policies for college students are becoming more popular. The editors of the Rochester Post-Bulletin endorsed one for University of Minnesota-Duluth students, and the editorial board of the Bangor Daily News in Maine took a similar stance for students at the University of Maine: “At some point, most young adults learn to give up drinking to the point of inebriation and instead use alcohol responsibly. How to best foster this – as opposed to imposing a rigid age cut-off – should drive the discussion.”

In other news…

This week, we came across some interesting statistics from the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Service. Did you know that underage drinking costs South Carolina $837.5 million every year – $2,036 for each young person? Or that 70% of all high school students in South Carolina have tried alcohol? Legal Age 21 doesn’t seem to be working very well in that state.

Pennsylvania’s Gant Daily reported on the record number of students hospitalized for alcohol-related issues at Penn State’s Nittany Medical Center last year.

George¬† Lesser’s column in a mid-week edition of the Washington Times shed light on some ugly, alcohol-fueled behavior by U.S. college students and young tourists in Europe. The title of his piece doesn’t mince words: “The prettier ugly Americans: Europe’s new Vandals come from our colleges.”

Steven Heinberg of HealthDay and U.S. News and World Report summarized an upcoming study in the journal Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine on alcohol merchandising and underage binge drinking. The group of Dartmouth researchers studied young people who owned alcohol-branded gear such as hats and t-shirts and “found that having these items predicted the susceptibility to start drinking and becoming a binge drinker.” Check out the rest of the article here.

Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments.

Face The State: Reconsider the Drinking Age

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Following up on Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner’s appearance in the 60 Minutes segment on the drinking age, the editors of Colorado’s “Face the State” news website have published an editorial in favor of [CR]’s mission. The editors wrote, “now is the time for nationwide conversation. Kids are silently dying under prohibition. For those unconvinced, a simple visit to Boulder on a Saturday night should do the trick.” Their editorial specifically calls on the new Obama administration to address this issue – read the rest of the editorial here.

MN Paper: Medical Amnesty for Students

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

The editors of Rochester, Minnesota’s Post-Bulletin published an editorial this week endorsing a medical amnesty policy for students at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. They recognized that drinking is common among underage students and wrote, “we’d prefer that underage students stick with Mountain Dew, Dasani or Diet Pepsi, but the reality is that college students drink alcohol.” The editors believe it’s safer to institute a medical amnesty policy than to leave an underage students wondering “what kind of legal mess they’ll all get into if someone dials 911.” Check out the rest of the editorial and let us know what you think.

Record High Alcohol Hospitalizations at Penn State

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

This week, Pennsylvania’s Daily Gant gave us a snapshot of the worsening binge drinking problem on college campuses. In 2008, the number of students hospitalized for alcohol-related issues at the Nittany Medical Center reached a record high: 558 students were hospitalized last year, which amounts to an 84% increase over the past three years. The problem got so bad that the number of students admitted to the hospital between August and December of 2008 – 313 – surpassed the number of students hospitalized during all of 2005.

Increased rates of binge drinking appear to be part of the problem, as average blood alcohol levels rose “from 0.234 percent in 2005 to 0.252 percent last year.”

The paper also notes that the average age of a student visiting the hospital for an alcohol-related issue is 20, a year below the legal drinking age. Legal Age 21 isn’t working, and the problem appears to be getting worse.