Archive for August, 2010

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, August 20th, 2010

In case you missed it earlier this week, check out Mark Kleiman’s commentary and follow-up post about alcohol policy reform posted at The Atlantic. Some of his ideas about the drinking age are provocative, and we’d like to hear what you think in the comments. Once you’ve weighed in, check out the rest of these headlines.

Stories this week

As September approaches, many colleges and universities are making changes to their on-campus alcohol policies to try and stop the flood of early-semester binge drinking by incoming students before it begins: the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Winston-Salem Journal reported on changes to parental notification policy for alcohol violations at James Madison University and Wake Forest University, and the Des Moines Register outlined changes to tailgating rules at the University of Iowa. Meanwhile, Colby College announced that it will ban all liquor from campus dorms and parties.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed bill AB2486 into law this week. The new law will create civil liability for adults 21 and older who provide alcohol to underage drinkers killed or injured as a result of intoxication. Previous California law “protected adults 21 and up from civil suit if they knowingly provided alcohol that resulted in the injury or death of a young person.”

Speaking of social host legislation, Stephanie Raposo of The Patriot-News crafted a guide for parents that spells out the laws against serving underage drinkers in Pennsylvania. Does her portrait of a typical underage drinking party sound familiar? “Teens jumping out of windows, climbing over fences and running as fast as they can in a panic…”

In other news…

At, Amanda Gardner outlined a new study that explores the increased risk of stroke and heart attack for older binge drinkers who have high blood pressure.

Police officials and school administrators are gearing up for what some are calling the “first true test” of Iowa City’s recently-passed 21-only bar ordinance – the first weekend students have returned to campus.

Colby College Bans Liquor to Fight Binge Drinking, Alcohol Poisonings

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Leslie Bridgers of the Portland Press-Herald reports that Colby College will ban hard alcohol from all dorms and parties beginning this year in an attempt to cut down on dangerous episodes of toxic drinking by students.

The ban comes “more than two years after nearly 20 students were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning following a now-defunct annual tradition called Champagne on the Steps, in which seniors marked the end of classes by drinking on the steps of Colby’s library.”

Colby Dean of Students Jim Terhune said the ban would hopefully lead to safer outcomes for students who choose to drink, since “we don’t have students ending up in the hospital because they’ve had too many beers.” However, some students believe the policy – which bans liquor for all students, regardless of age – is too restrictive and might lead to more underground pre-gaming. What do you think?

Mark Kleiman on Alcohol Policy in The Atlantic

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Mark Kleiman, Professor of Public Policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs and contributor to The Atlantic, recently penned a blog post called “What To Do About Drugs (Abridged)“, a provocative list of drug policy reform ideas. The list covered a wide variety of topics, and his last three proposals deal with alcohol and the legal drinking age. Here they are:

“10. Raise taxes on alcohol from the current average of a dime per drink to something closer to a dollar.

11. Make getting drunk (as opposed to drinking) the object of a big negative-advertising campaign. Goal: make being drunk, or having been drunk, something people—especially young people—try to hide, rather than something they brag about.

12. Abolish the age restriction on alcohol.”

Responding to some of his critics in a follow-up post, Kleiman wrote,

“Note that the drinking-age idea was paired with a tenfold increase in alcohol taxes to about a dollar a drink, roughly doubling the retail price of alcohol. That, plus a zero-tolerance policy on drinking and driving for teenagers, would get you most of the benefits of the current 21-year-old MLDA (and lots of benefits the MLDA can’t provide) without making tens of millions of teenagers into scofflaws.  It’s a good general principle that a law that’s widely broken is a bad law, and 90% of American 18-year-olds have sampled alcohol, despite the laws against it.”

What do you think of Kleiman’s proposals? Let us know by leaving your feedback in the comments.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Social host laws are becoming more popular as legislators search for ways to cut down on underage drinking, and this week, California took a step toward instituting a statewide social host law of its own. On Monday, the California Assembly voted 67-1 to send bill AB 2486, which imposes liability on adults who knowingly serve alcohol to underage drinkers, to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Leave your feedback on social host laws in the comments, and then check out the rest of these recent headlines.

Stories this week:

In case you missed it: Tom Keane made the provocative case for changing alcohol regulations, including the drinking age, in his Sunday essay for the Boston Globe magazine.

Charles Couger’s op-ed in the Lansing State Journal explores the unintended consequences of alcohol prohibition aimed at 18-20 year-olds, which he says lead to dangerous situations for underage drinkers who attempt to evade law enforcement.

Eric Hafner of Red Bank, NJ believes that New Jersey should extend alcohol purchase and consumption privileges to 18-20 year-olds who are non-drivers. What do you think?

In other news…

Rheyanne Weaver, an EmpowHER contributor, compiled a guide for female college students and their parents called “Alcohol Safety for Women in College.” Check it out for up-to-date statistics on binge drinking by female college students and descriptions of some collegiate alcohol education programs.

In Ontario Canada, where the drinking age is 19, local officials have instituted a new policy that intends to cut down on drunk driving by younger drivers. From now on, drivers under the age of 22 with “any measurable blood alcohol concentration above zero will be breaking the law and will have their licenses immediately suspended at the roadside for 24 hours. A $110 fine also will be imposed, under the new provisions, and drivers will be subject to a further license suspension of 30 days, if convicted in court.”

Send us a tip in the comments if we missed something with this week’s news round-up.

Boston Globe Magazine: “Our Regulation Addiction”

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

In Sunday’s edition of the Boston Globe Magazine, contributor Tom Keane penned a provocative essay exploring the merits and faults of alcohol regulation in Massachusetts. He touched on issues such as alcohol taxation, legislation targeting the concentration of liquor stores in local communities, and finally on the legal drinking age. He concluded,

“The lesson here is an old one: The law is a poor way to regulate private human behavior. So what to do? First, we should rethink our rules. Make the drinking age 18. Let the standard for issuing a liquor license be the character of the license holder, not the number of licenses in a town. Bring back price competition – including happy hours – and allow the market for alcohol to be the same as it is for any other foodstuff, which is to say, largely free and unfettered. But we also need to change our attitudes. At the heart of our problem with alcohol is that we think it something evil when it is not. Sure, misuse and overindulgence are bad, with sometimes terrible consequences. But this is true of many things; a car careening into a crowd does not make the car itself evil. I’m with the poets. What we really need is a culture that celebrates the wise use of alcohol rather than a body of laws whose aim is to make us feel guilty.”

What do you think of his argument? Read the whole thing, then give us your take by leaving your reactions in the comments.