4071.2 College Presidents Gone Wild: Myth vs Reality in the Minimum Drinking Age Debate

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 10:30 AM
This late-breaking session is a public health response to the media’s recent attention on the Amethyst Initiative --the 130 College Presidents’ call for a national debate to lower the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) of 21. In the past month, the Amethyst Initiative print media coverage (New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times) has raised questions about the need for MLDA21. In the first presentation, Toben Nelson will present the MLDA history and the preponderance of research literature showing that as states lowered the drinking age during the 1970’s, alcohol-related traffic crashes, and other alcohol-related problems increased among persons under age 21. When the MLDA returned to age 21, consumption and alcohol-related problems decreased. In the second presentation, Thomas Babor will describe the health implications of the European countries’ lower legal drinking age by highlighting data from population surveys of adolescent drinking patterns in the US and 33 European countries. He will also detail the impact on UK youth of the Blair government’s relaxation of alcohol controls, and discuss whether the so-called low risk Mediterranean drinking style can be engendered by public policy changes including lower MLDA. In the third presentation, Bob Saltz will present research on successful college prevention interventions including the findings from a 14-campus study in California. These results will provide college administrators with a menu of options for colleges to reduce binge drinking. Fourth, Judy Cushing will present a model of community policies and practices in support of colleges MLDA21.
Session Objectives: The health and safety benefits of maintaining the 21-Minimum Legal Drinking Age, The higher prevalence of binge drinking in many European countries with lower MLDA than the US, Successful comprehensive strategies that campus communities can undertake, and How the 21-MLDA can be used in college prevention work at the community level.
Linda M. Bosma, MA, PhD

See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.

Organized by: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs