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Tag Archives: underage drinking

Being as this is my last blog post, I am going to the answer the question I set out to at the beginning of this year. “Does America really have the best drinking culture in the world because of our higher drinking age? Or should our drinking age be lowered?”

First I have a story that brings this a little closer to home. Last weekend I went to Lake Tahoe to snowboard with a bunch of international students from SFSU. There were about 80 of us all together looking to let loose and have a good time. Which as I have been saying for young people usually involves drinking. The first night at the cabin I came across an interesting and eye opening experience. A group of us were sitting together and there was a bottle of champagne going around the group; after one girl ( who I hadn’t met yet) drank from the bottle. One of her friends next to her was surprised and said something like, ” You’re drinking?”. The girl replies,”Yes I drink but I just don’t binge drink”. My mouth nearly dropped. I never thought that I would find someone in a college house party who is an international student that doesn’t binge drink.

Before I get ahead of myself let me explain what binge drinking, because I don’t believe it is a term that we Americans throw around very often in the younger crowd. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is defined as  “a common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours.”

The next night I talked to her a bit more about the issue of binge drinking around the world and I was deffinately surprised from what I found out. I said something like, ” It has been pretty hard this semester to say no to consuming alcohol because I have been hanging around a lot of international students who drink quite a bit.” She replies, ” Really? In Europe we always thought binge drinking was an American thing. In Europe we would never have drinking games like beer pong, flip cup or beer bongs.” She also mentioned that that because this kind of drinking culture is shown in movies having to do with America, that many Europeans come to America because they believe this is what our culture is like. She did admit that Europeans drink more often but they are more casual about their drinking and don’t drink to become drunk.

I was shocked and so was she. In America it seems that we point the finger at the Europeans for being irressponsible with their drinking because they allow children to consume alcohol. Ironically it seems that Europeans point the finger at us because we binge drink at many occasions. I believe that both opinions have very good points to them.

The CDC also says that, 75 percent of adults in America consume alcohol in the form of binge drinks. In addition 90 percent of drinks consumed by people under 21 in America are also in the form of binge drinks. The website also says that binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning, injuries, sexual assault, STDs, liver disease, sexual dysfunction and much more. This obviously is a problem for the United States.

Courtesy of "Alcohol Statistics in Europe"

According to the article “Alcohol in Teens in Europe” binge drinking is also a big problem in Europe. This is because the drinking age around Europe is 18 which is technically still  teenager and when people start drinking in Europe they tend to binge drink as well. To end this problem some countries in Europe have raised their drinking age to 21 which has decreased binge drinking by 12 percent. However even if the drinking age is changed to 21; doesn’t mean this problem will go away. Also it doesn’t mean that America doesn’t have a problem with this either.

In my opinion the best thing to do is to stop pointing fingers on opposite sides of the world and come clean. It is clear that all over the world binge drinking is a problem no matter the drinking age. Like I said before I don’t believe age is the only factor to this problem, it is part of the issue but the most important part to solve this problem is teaching people everywhere to know their limits when it comes to alcohol. Granted being older does help a person make good choices but that is not neccsasarily the case.

I believe that each country should start at at different place depending on their legal drinking age, because the countries culture and history is important when altering ideals about alcohol. So for countries like Germany and Italy, that have a legal drinking age of 16, they should work on enforcing this drinking age. Also I don’t think it would hurt to raise the drinking age to 18. For countries like Ireland, England, and the rest of Europe that have a legal drinking age of 18, they should work on enforcing their drinking age and also teaching their youth about alcohol abuse. I believe that culturally if the countries that have a drinking age of 18, raise their drinking age to 21 it will not culturally fit. These countries’ people I believe will not accept this law. Now for America I believe that we should our legal drinking age at 21, because if we lower this I do believe that young people under 21 will become even more destructive with alcohol. This will bot be good for our society and our tax payers, however I do believe that we also need to teach our youth about alcohol abuse before they are able to drink legally. So 6 months before their 21rst birthdays and when they turn 18. This should be mandatory for every young person like driver’s education.

The last bit of advice I have for everyone is something I have learned this semester. It is best to be yourself. I believe a big reason that people drink is to let go, be free, have fun and maybe improve their moods. However drinking just adds to these problems, and alcohol is not necessary to have fun. We shouldn’t drink to get drunk but drink because we enjoy the taste of alcohol. Best to everyone 🙂

The first thing to come to my mind when I think of Italy is Rome, The Pope, good food, gelato and of course good wine. In my mind Italians are the classy Europeans when it comes to well everything especially drinking. It seems to me that Italians never drink to get drunk and always accompany their drinks with a good amount of pasta. Italians seem to enjoy the the taste of wine and drink  with an air of sensibility.

In the article titled, “A Sip Too Far: Italy Cracks down on Underage Drinking“, Jeff Israely says this about Italian drinking culture.  “Italy has always prided itself on a balanced — even divine — rapport with the strong stuff. Call it a sipping culture rather than a drinking culture: Italians traditionally serve wine at the family dinner table, with boys and girls often getting their first taste of alcohol around age 12..” This part of the article confirms my preconceived notions of Italians and their drinking culture, and I did see this openness but also a  sense of control to drinking when I traveled to Italy.

However Israely goes onto say “The national minimum drinking age of 16 is often ignored and rarely enforced.” He also quotes a Roman pub manager who argues “Lots of young people don’t even know what they’re drinking … They just [want] to get drunk.” The author of this article is trying to say that usually Italians are very refined in their drinking but since the drinking age isn’t enforced young people are starting to drink more recklessly. This makes sense to me because every young person wants to experiment everything life has to offer whether it’s alcohol or skydiving. This is true of all young people regardless of culture, whether you’re Italian or American.

In order to combat this underage drinking the city of Milan is trying to enforce the legal drinking age of 16 years. So now those only 16 years of age and older can buy alcohol and anyone caught supplying alcohol to someone underage or if someone is caught drinking in public who is under 16 will be fined 700 hundred dollars. After the Milan city council passed this legislation, the Italian Prime Minister encouraged other cities to follow Milan’s lead. Which has started in some other other cities now. The hard part about doing this is that it is illegal to ask someone for identification in Italy before being served alcohol. So it’s up to the bar or store decide how old the person looks.

What is this?! I applaud Milan for reacting to a growing problem among its youth but can a Prime Minister really do no more that just recomend that other cities start doing the same? Doesn’t he have the power to make the whole follow this legislation? In addition, coming from an American background where we card people until they are 30, how can there be an actual law not allowing for identification before buying or consuming alcohol? What is the sense of having a drinking age then? If Italy is going to care about it’s youths’ problem with drinking I feel it needs to start taking the problem seriously. Some people are but the problem not everyone feels the same way.

Courtesy of Italian Alcohol Comsumption on the Rise.