Archive for July, 2008

Montana Democrats Support a Lower Drinking Age

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

On Saturday, the Montana Democratic Party passed a resolution in favor of lowering the drinking age to 18, thereby adding reconsidering the drinking age to their official platform.  Many of their arguments in favor of lowering the drinking age are remarkably similar to ours; read more about it here.

Teenage Air Traffic Controllers?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced that it would award $100,000 bonuses to people willing to take jobs as air traffic controllers, in an effort to lure workers to understaffed control centers in New York. The FAA has targeted people as young as 18 in their search for new air traffic controllers by recruiting at high schools and on youth-friendly websites such as MySpace and Craigslist. While training can take at least a year and a half, recruiting employees right out of high school means that we will soon have people as young as 19 and 20 patrolling our skies and looking after our safety.


Ironically, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the FAA are both federal agencies of the U.S. Department of Transportation. While the NHTSA’s take on alcohol-related traffic fatalities promotes a minimum legal drinking age of 21 and claims that under-agers cannot be trusted to drink responsibly, the FAA’s recent recruitment policies seem to say that people as young as 18 can, in fact, be trusted to act with maturity and responsibility.


In other words, the government has determined that 18 year olds are responsible enough to make split-second decisions affecting the safety and lives of millions; however, they are not responsible enough to drink a beer. It doesn’t really make sense to us; be sure to watch this CNN clip and let us know what you think.

Barrett Seaman wins RSA Journalism Award

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Congratulations to Choose Responsibility Board member Barrett Seaman who won Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) 2008 Journalism Award.  Barrett was recognized for his 2005 book Binge: Campus Life in an Age of Disconnection and Excess and the contributions it made to alcohol research and to college student drinking specifically.  Dr. Scott Swartzwelder, also a [CR] Board member and active RSA research scientist, nominated Binge for the Award, and in his presentation stated “The awards committee recognized [Seaman’s] work to reflect excellent scholarship and high social relevance and noted that his commitment to the issue of college drinking was enduring and impressive.”  The Award was presented at the closing dinner of the RSA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on July 2.  The entire Board and staff of Choose Responsibility was present to celebrate this important recognition of Barrett’s contribution to the field. 


Barrett Seaman’s acceptance remarks:

“Thanks, Scott, judges.  I’m flattered but frankly astonished that a group of data-driven, knowledgeable scientists would actually be enlightened by the musings of a journalist who wandered into the thick of American campus life with a notebook in his hand.  Makes me think I must have gotten at least part of it right.




I believe that we cannot expect young people to learn how to handle alcohol responsibly if we walk out of the room and assume that the law is going to solve the problem.  We need to be in that room, demonstrating that one doesn’t need to do shots and get falling down drink to enjoy oneself.



I would urge you, as scientists, to help us, as a society, find the right balance between legislating behavior, as we try to do now, and educating young people objectively so they can take responsibility for their behavior.”



Congratulations to Barrett for this great achievement!  See here for coverage from Hamilton College. 

Binge Drinking Deaths Increasing

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

A new Associated Press study, announced yesterday, has revealed that 157 college-age people (aged 18 to 23) drank themselves to death between 1999 and 2005, and that the number of alcohol-poisoning deaths per year rose from 18 in 1999 to 35 in 2005.  Interestingly, 83 of the people who died were under the legal drinking age of 21. 

Additional analysis revealed that college students are more likely to die from binge drinking-related alcohol poisoning than non-college students, and that freshmen are most at risk during their first semester at college.  With the legal drinking age set at 21, people (especially underage drinkers) are dying from binge drinking, and the number of deaths is continuing to climb due to the common mentality of “if you’re under 21 and someone’s got alcohol, you’ve got to drink it, because you never know when somebody’s going to have it again.”   

Some colleges have begun to adopt programs to educate students about responsible drinking—an important first step that will hopefully have some good consequences in the future.  Regardless, this new study really points out a vital question:  Is 21 working?

[CR] and the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

The National Conference of State Liquor Administrators held their annual convention this past week in Chicago, and MLDA 21 was a major topic of discussion.  Our very own John McCardell was there to argue towards a lower drinking age, meeting opposition from the American Medical Association and others.  The convention has received a lot of coverage, and we encourage you to check out Fox News and ABC News links for some video clips and more information about the drinking age discussion.


Also, to see a more in-depth interview with John McCardell, and to hear more about [CR]’s position on the drinking age, take a look at this clip from Chicago Tonight on WTTW11, PBS Chicago.

New Study Examines Legal Age 21

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

A new study, published in Accident Analysis and Prevention, has examined minimum legal drinking age 21 and drunk driving fatalities over the last few decades, and concludes that there has been decreases in teen drunk driving fatalities since MLDA 21 went into effect.  The study also reports that laws enforcing strict punishment for the use of fake IDs are significantly effective in reducing drunk driving fatalities, according to U.S. News & World Report.  Interestingly, one of the primary researchers for the study is a former board member for MADD…

This review by U.S. News & World Report is a prologue to an upcoming, larger article on teen brain research and the role of alcohol.  We are interested to see what the authors come up with, and will keep you posted on the status of that piece.