Should the legal age for the consumption of alcohol be increased to 21?

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Increasing the legal age for the consumption of alcohol to twenty-one is a topic that has recently sparked much debate, with many people endorsing the idea of increasing the age of alcohol consumption. This is because it is thought that implementing such a law may curb youth binge drinking and alcohol related road accidents (Drug Free Australia: 2008). However there are many reasons as to why the legal age for alcohol consumption should not be increased. These include the fact that young people will still drink regardless of any age restrictions, ethical issues and because there are other ways that could be more effective in lowering youth binge drinking and alcohol related road accidents.

Currently the legal age for the consumption of alcohol is Australia is eighteen. Despite this youths continue to consume alcohol even when they are underage. Evidence of this can be found in the Australian secondary school students’ use of alcohol in 2005 report (Hayman & White: 2006). This study found that, at the time of the survey, sixty-seven per cent of the 21 805 youths questioned, had consumed alcohol in the past year. While many of these sixty-seven per cent will only experiment with alcohol occasionally, a large number continue to be regular drinkers. In fact, around half of the sixteen and seventeen year olds surveyed admitted to drinking alcohol regularly. This trend of underage drinking may be caused by the drinking culture in Australia. Australians view alcohol use ‘as both normal, sociable and expected’ (Hurt, Shanahan & Wilkins: 2002). In fact it is seen as so normal that many youths are first introduced to alcohol by members of their family (Hurt, Shanahan & Wilkins: 2002). Because of this culture of drinking, youths do not v...

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Works Cited

Australian Medical Association. 2009, ‘Alcohol Use and Harms in Australia (2009) – Information Paper. Retrieved 16 April 2010 from http://www.ama.com.au/node/4762

Drug Free Australia. 2006, ‘Push to raise drinking age to 21- Let’s look at the evidence’. Retrieved 15 April 2010 from http://www.drugfree.org.au/newsandevents/news/browse/3/

Hayman, J. & White, V. 2006, ‘Australian secondary school students’ use of alcohol in 2005’, The Cancer Council Victoria. Retrieved 15 April 2010 from http://www.health.gov.au/internet/drugstrategy/publishing.nsf/Content/85D7B21B3E3A993ECA2572250007755F/$File/mono58.pdf

Hurt, N., Shanahan, P. & Wilkins, M. 2002, ‘A Study of Attitudes and Behaviours of Drinkers at Risk’. Retrieved 16 April 2010 from http://www.alcohol.gov.au/internet/alcohol/publishing.nsf/Content/resources-attitudes&behaviours
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