Archive for April, 2009

MLDA 21 Symposium at Dartmouth Friday

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

This Friday, the Dartmouth Center on Addiction and Recovery Education will host its fifth-annual Symposium on Substance Abuse. This year’s symposium focuses on the debate over Legal Age 21 and its implications for public health policy. The day-long event will feature a group of nationally-recognized researchers and experts on the issues of the legal drinking age, substance abuse, and addiction, including:

  • [CR] President and founder John McCardell
  • Jeffrey Miron, Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Economics at Harvard University
  • Alan Green, Chair of the Psychiatry Department at Dartmouth Medical School
  • Ralph Hingson, Director of the NIAAA’s Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research
  • David Jernigan of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the author of the World Health Organization report “Global Status of Youth Alcohol Use”
  • C. Everett Koop, Dartmouth Class of 1937 and U.S. Surgeon General 1981-1989
  • Amy Wallace, Director of Substance Abuse Services at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Lebanon, NH

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Visit Dartmouth News for more information about the program and details about how to register.

Carroll County Times: Some Question Legal Age 21

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Karen Kemp of Maryland’s Carroll County Times recently interviewed [CR] President John McCardell for an article about the legal drinking age in the Sunday edition of the paper. Kemp also spoke to Michael Fingerhood, an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, who summed up the problem of binge drinking in a few words: “When teens drink, they don’t stop after one or two. Teens drink to get a buzz or to get intoxicated.”

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, April 24th, 2009

It was another busy week for [CR] President John McCardell, as he traveled West to give a presentation at the AGB National Conference on Trusteeship. As he made his way back East, he stopped off at Auburn University and Texas Christian University to give presentations about the legal drinking age. Back here in Washington at the [CR] office, we received word of a potential new alcohol policy being discussed at the University of Maryland, an Amethyst Initiative signatory school. Washington Post reporter Susan Kinzie reported on a proposed medical amnesty program aimed at students who seek help for others who have been drinking heavily. These policies are becoming more and more popular on college campuses across the country as administrators look to prevent the serious harm associated with binge drinking. For more recent news, here’s the latest edition of the [CR] Week in Review:

Stories this week:

In addition to Dr. McCardell’s presentations, there was plenty of other action on college campuses regarding the Amethyst Initiative and the debate about Legal Age 21 this week. At Lehigh, the student senate passed a resolution in support of the Amethyst Initiative and is working on a large petition in support of the declaration.  Administrators and students at Capital University came together for a panel discussion about the Amethyst Initiative.  And at Smith College in Massachusetts, the student representatives for the Five College Student Coordinating Board are in the process of organizing a “Beyond Amethyst” conference for area colleges (featuring a keynote address by [CR] board member Barrett Seaman) that tackles the issue of binge drinking.

Check out the comments from Sheriff Bill Masters in last Sunday’s edition of the Telluride Daily Planet: Masters said that he favors lowering the drinking age because “at 18 you’re old enough to serve in the military, you’re old enough to vote, [and] you’re judged as an adult in the courts.”

Indiana Daily Student opinion writer D.J. Funkhouser pointed out the ineffectiveness of our approach to alcohol education in his latest weekly column: “here in the United States, most of us only first experience drinking when we leave our parents and go to college. We’re being let loose to a potentially dangerous drug without ever having taken it in moderation and with supervision. We don’t know our tolerance or what it does to us.”

In other news…

Nancy Cole of the Syracuse Post-Standard wrote about some recent efforts by colleges and universities in Central New York to cut down on the excessive drinking that often goes hand in hand with annual spring festivities for students. At Cornell University, the annual spring celebration called Slope Day has been a tradition since 1901, but “from 1984 to 2000, the day’s focus shifted from food, music and celebration to widespread and uncontrolled alcohol consumption.” These area colleges are trying to program new alternatives that will take the focus off of alcohol and give students safer options.

Did you catch the recent report in Inside Higher Ed about a new study that found a correlation between frequent binge drinking and reduced academic performance? If not, read about it here.

If we missed a story this week, send us a link in the comments.

GPA and Binge Drinking

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Inside Higher Ed writer Scott Jaschik reported this week that a recent study done by the Center for the Study of Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University found a connection between binge drinking rates and reduced academic performance. Though the study itself was primarily focused on suicide rates, the researchers also asked about drinking habits, and the results indicate that frequent binge drinking is correlated with a lower grade point average. Check out the rest of the details here.

Telluride Daily Planet: Lower Drinking Age?

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Reilly Capps of Colorado’s Teluride Daily Planet interviewed a few local elected officials for an article on the drinking age in the Sunday edition of the paper. Check out what Capps wrote about Sheriff Bill Masters’ take on Legal Age 21: “From an enforcement perspective, the Sheriff thinks problem drinking is harder to enforce with a higher drinking age. Kids drink in secret, in the woods, to excess, and it’s hard for the deputies to police. He’s seen underage drinkers die from the culture of prohibition.”

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Newark Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine picked up on Jeffrey Miron’s article on Legal Age 21 and traffic fatalities in Forbes, and offered his own take on the law: “Most nations on Earth get along just fine without such an oppressive edict.” If you haven’t had a chance to read Miron’s article, check it out – it calls into question one of the oldest and most fundamental arguments put forth by proponents of Legal Age 21: namely, that the law was responsible for a large reduction in alcohol-related traffic deaths. For the rest of this week’s news, here’s the latest Week in Review:

Stories this week:

Philip Cook, a Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland who has written extensively about alcohol policy, gave a presentation this week on the legal drinking age at Maryland’s School of Public Policy. Check out the details of his presentation in The Diamondback, Maryland’s student paper.

Kathleen Reeves, a freelance writer for Campus Progress, the Center for American Progress’ campus activism group, published a piece about this history and implications of the legal drinking age earlier this week.

On Monday, Nevada Sagebrush opinion columnist Nic Dunn wrote about the “confusing labyrinth” that our inconsistent age of majority laws have built up around the issue of alcohol.

Ryan Dickson of Henderson State University’s The Oracle called out for “a voice of reason” to guide our alcohol laws. He wrote, “It is high time we started discussing this issue like a mature society instead of using scare tactics to control behavior.”

In other news…

Lately, we’ve been hearing more and more about the economic costs of underage and binge drinking. Did you know that underage drinking and the costs associated with hospitalizations and enforcement add up to $447 million in Nebraska?

Check out the details of a successful alcohol education program at UC-Davis in the Wednesday edition of the Sacramento Bee.

Have something to add to this list? Post the link in the comments.

Jeffrey Miron in Forbes: MLDA 21 and Traffic Deaths

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

On the heels of his recent participation in a panel discussion about the drinking age at Harvard, Professor Jeffrey Miron has written another piece in Forbes questioning the conventional wisdom of Legal Age 21 and its claimed connection to a reduction in alcohol-related traffic fatalities. Miron wrote, “in our recently completed research, we show that the MLDA21 has little or no life-saving effect…the major implication of these results is that the drinking age does not produce its main claimed benefit. Moreover, it plausibly generates side effects, like binge drinking and disrespect for the law–the very behavior that events planned for this month’s alcohol awareness theme are designed to deter.”

Binge Drinking at UWM: Parents React

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

This week, Jim Stevens of Wisconsin’s Lake Country Reporter wrote about three area college students who died from binge drinking. Paul Raddatz, father of Ali Raddatz, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student who died in late February, talked about the dangers of excessive drinking: “Instead of talking a half-hour, they’re doing a shot in two seconds. And five seconds later they’re back, doing another with 60-, 80-proof alcohol.”

Raddatz believes “colleges need a safe environment for students to drink and be responsible instead of drinking in secret, as his daughter did,” and that the drinking age should be lowered to help create a safer drinking environment. The current laws put parents and educators in a difficult situation when it comes to educating young adults about alcohol, so what do you think of his idea? Check out the article and leave your feedback in the comments.

WOWK-TV: Lower Drinking Age?

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Dee DeLancey of WOWK-TV in Huntington, West Virginia, recently reported on an upcoming debate on the drinking age at Marshall University. Check out the details and the video here.

[CR] Week in Review

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

A few weeks ago, the Cato Institute interviewed Harvard University Economics Professor Jeffrey Miron about his take on the issue of Legal Age 21 and highway fatalities for one of its daily podcasts. Miron’s follow-up article, “Did The Federal Drinking Age Law Save Lives?” is posted online and can also be found in the Spring 2009 issue of Cato’s magazine, Regulation.  For more stories on binge and underage drinking around the country, here’s the latest [CR] Week in Review:

Stories this week:

Dennis Martel, the health education services coordinator at Michigan State University’s Olin Health Center, thinks the drinking age should be lowered to help promote responsible consumption.

More news from Michigan: some Oakland County district judges are being targeted with lawsuits because they’ve taken an unusually harsh stance on underage drinking. What’s causing the controversy? The judges are jailing first-time offenders who are charged with a minor in possession violation. The judges are defending the practice, saying that it promotes safety and teaches a necessary lesson, while the ACLU of Michigan has expressed concerns that the judges are going too far. The article in the Detroit Free Press states that “so many people are ticketed on charges of minor in possession of alcohol that judges sometimes sentence dozens of students at once.” Is this what proponents of Legal Age 21 mean when they offer more enforcement as a solution to underage drinking, and is enforcement alone the only solution?

Check out Crystal Moran’s letter to the editor of the El Paso Times: she believes that the development of on-campus, public drinking establishments could work wonders to prevent drunk driving because students won’t have to drive off campus to find social life. What do you think?

Some colleges are getting creative with their alcohol education programs – at Chico State University, some students used last week’s E.R. series finale, which dealt with the issue of binge drinking, as a launching pad for conversations about alcohol use.

In other news…

Georgia’s Valdosta Daily Times published their latest “Letters from Iraq” feature this week, and the new letter tells the story of Airman First Class William Logsdon, who is responsible for operating heavy weaponry as a Mine Resistant Armor Protected (MRAP) turrent gunner. According to Lt. Col. Gregory Lafitte’s letter, Logsdon, who had not yet reached the legal drinking age when he was deployed, “spends hours ‘prepping’ his weapon system before a mission. In fact, he proudly explains that he can disassemble and reassemble his respective weapon in just under 60 seconds, providing the confidence that if necessary, he could solve any malfunction in a stressful situation.” Logsdon had been entrusted by his fellow soldiers to protect them in a dangerous situation, but he still had to wait to turn 21 before he could have a beer to unwind with the rest of his unit. Does this fact make sense to you?

Join Together has the results of a recent poll asking people about restrictions on alcopops – according to the survey, performed as part of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, Fifty-two percent of respondents said that alcopops definitely or probably encourage underage drinking, with 92 percent strongly supporting the use of warning labels on alcopops. The rest of the survey results deal with alcopop advertising and can be found here. What do you think?

Researchers at Boston University will publish the results of a new study in the upcoming issue of the journal Addictive Behaviors that deals with some potentially overlooked causes of binge drinking. The researchers found that multiple types of child maltreatment are “robust risk factors” for underage binge drinking later in life.

A reminder: the [CR] offices will be closed this Friday, April 10th. Did we miss something this week? Let us know in the comments section.