Wednesday, January 17, 2018

National Academies' Drunk Driving Study Is A Mixed Bag

The latest NHTSA-commissioned study done by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has just been released.  The 489-page report came up with the following recommendations based on a review of the literature:
  • Lower the BAC limit for DUI to 0.05 (currently 0.08 in all 50 states* and DC)
  • Increase alcohol taxes
  • Reduce the hours and days during which alcohol can be sold
  • Crack down on sales of alcohol to people under 21 and people who are already intoxicated
  • Put limits on alcohol marketing and fund anti-alcohol campaigns similar to what is currently done with smoking.
As we can see, this list of recommendations is a mixed bag overall.  Let's go through each of these ideas, one by one:

Lower the BAC limit to 0.05.  Twenty-One debunked supports this one, albeit with the reservation that driving with a BAC of 0.050-0.079 ought to be a traffic violation rather than a criminal offense, with criminal penalties reserved for those above 0.08.  The models used in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, or even the one currently used in New York, should be used in all states and territories.  And all penalties for DUI should be steeply graduated based on BAC in general.

Increase alcohol taxes.  Twenty-One Debunked fully supports this one, and it is in fact a key component of our proposal.  And it is probably the single best way to reduce alcohol-related harms, including drunk driving casualties.  We recommend raising and equalizing the federal tax on all alcoholic beverages to the 1991 inflation-adjusted level for distilled spirits, namely $24 per proof-gallon.

Reduce the hours and days during which alcohol can be sold.  Twenty-One Debunked does not take an official position on this one, but would be fine with a modest reduction depending on the details (days?).  It would seem that there is an optimum time for "last call" which is overall better than anything much earlier or later.   We need more information to make a sound judgment about this recommendation.

Crack down on alcohol sales to people under 21.   Well, you should know by now how we stand on that one.  In a word, NO.  Twenty-One Debunked believes in lowering the drinking age to 18, full stop.  That said, we would be fine with cracking down on vendors who sell to people under 18 all the same.

Crack down on sales to people who are already (noticeably) intoxicated.  Twenty-One Debunked would be okay with that, as long it is not done in an ageist or overly heavy-handed fashion.

Put limits on alcohol marketing and fund anti-alcohol campaigns similar to smoking.  Twenty-One Debunked supports this one, albeit with some reservations.  Clearly, alcohol and tobacco are quite different from one another in terms of both harm and addictiveness, and that undeniable fact should figure into any such campaigns.  Alcohol is not all bad per se, unlike tobacco.  As a wise man once said, smoking is not like drinking, it is more like being an alcoholic.

Also, some ideas were noticeably absent or at best downplayed from the list of recommendations.  These include:
All of which we support, and are either proven or at least promising.  And of course we support lowering the drinking age to 18.  Yet they supported tougher enforcement of the 21 drinking age.  Why, given how it has been so thoroughly debunked by Miron and Tetelbaum (2009) and several other studies?  Well, no one wants to admit that their crown jewel is somehow tainted--and NHTSA et al. clearly considers the 21 drinking age to be their crown jewel of sorts.

But back to the controversial 0.05 limit proposal, as we have noted above, it should be administrative rather than criminal.  Even for BACs above 0.08 it should also carry such administrative sanctions in addition to (and separate from) any criminal penalies.  And the Canadian experience with such has shown that swift and certain (but modest) punishment works wonders, much more so than lowering the boom rarely and haphazardly.  As for the fear that bars and restaurants will lose business as a result?  Well, let us play the world's smallest violin for them.  They may want to think ahead and invest in "safe rider" programs then.  Problem solved.

So what are we waiting for?

* The criminal BAC limit is 0.08 in all states except Utah, whose new 0.05 law goes into effect on December 30, 2018.  Some states, such as New York, actually already set the limit at 0.05 for a lesser offense that is just a traffic violation and not a criminal offense, albeit with license suspension.

Why Are Traffic Deaths On The Rise?

After decades of a massive secular decline in traffic deaths, reaching an all-time record low in 2014 per VMT as well as per capita, such deaths have been creeping up again since then.  2015 and 2016 both saw national increases in fatalities, and 2017 looks likely to continue that grim trend (and indeed has in several states).  In fact, it is the largest two-year jump in deaths in half a century.  So why has progress stalled and begun to reverse in recent years?

The list of most likely factors includes the following:
  • Lower gas prices
  • An improving economy since the Great Recession
  • An increase in distracted driving (and walking), primarly from smartphones
  • Higher speed limits than in the past 
  • Infrastructure in disrepair from neglect
  • Slacking on traffic safety improvements in general since the early 1990s
All of these things are true, and all of them are known to be correlated with traffic casualties.  Other factors are involved as well, to be sure, but these are the big ones.  The first three are the proximal causes, while the last three are the more distal ones.

Of course, drunk driving and not wearing seatbelts remain rather persistent contributors to the number of these deaths, but such behaviors remain far lower than they were decades ago.  Nevertheless, they remain at dangerous levels, and it is apparently a bit too early to feel safe in that regard.  And with real alcohol prices at record lows today and alcohol consumption on the rise for the past two decades, there is definitely a cause for concern in that regard.

What about drugged driving, then?  Is it really on the rise, like some have claimed?  Perhaps, but it may simply be that we are getting better at detecting it rather than an actual increase.  Or perhaps it is a bit of both.  The opioid epidemic certainly doesn't make the roads any safer.  And contrary to the anti-legalization folks, there does not seem to be any firm link between cannabis legalization and traffic fatalities.  In fact, some studies have found decreases in highway deaths following cannabis liberalization, due to an apparent substitution with alcohol.

One thing is for sure.  Whether this spike in traffic casualties is a short-term blip or the start of a longer-term trend (which will only be known in hindsight), it should be a major wake-up call that we clearly cannot afford to be complacent about it any longer.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

In Other News, New Study Finds That The Sun Rises In The East

Captain Obvious called, and they want their study back.  Namely, the one that found that more frequent police traffic stops in general leads to less drunk driving.  In fact, communities with very few traffic stops had a rate of impaired driving that was as much as two to three times higher than in communities with more frequent traffic stops.  The same was true for the intensity of DUI saturation patrols, which, interestingly enough, were found to be quite superior to roadblock-style sobriety checkpoints in this study.

Additionally, they also found that the number of DUI arrests, after other variables controlled for, was also inversely correlated with drunk driving despite the chicken-or-egg problem inherent in this measure.  Thus, on balance, the greater the probability of arrest if one does drive drunk in a given community, the less people are willing to drive drunk in that community.

Again, we see that the perception of swift and certain punishment--that is, greater odds of getting caught--does indeed act as a robust deterrent for drunk driving.  Gee, who woulda thunk it?

So how about the following thought experiment:  if the drinking age was suddenly lowered to 18 overnight, how would police respond now in 2018?  Most likely, they would become more active in cracking down on DUI, fearing an increase in such among young people.  And that crackdown would not only prevent the feared short-term increase in traffic casualties, but also have a spillover that would reduce traffic casualties among all ages.  That is the most logical prediction of the net effect of doing so nowadays, as it's clearly not the 1970s anymore.

It's time to finish the job.   So what are we waiting for?

Friday, January 5, 2018

18 in '18

It is now 2018, and this year may be the very best chance we have had in a long time to lower the legal drinking age to 18.  With the Amethyst Initiative and Choose Responsibility already now over a decade old and ultimately a flash in the pan, and the relative dormancy of our movement since about 2012 or so, it's time to start the "third wave" of our movement now.  We need to be re-invigorated like never before.

Thus, we need to start getting "18 in '18" initiatives on the ballot in as many states as possible, in addition to pressuring our legislators to lower the drinking age to 18.  With the mid-term elections likely to be "on fire" in terms of more voter turnout than usual, especially for young people, it seems that at least some such initiatives may have a chance.

Let America be America Again, and lower the drinking age to 18.  If you're old enough to go to war, you're old enough to go to the bar.  'Nuff said.

What better time than now?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The One Thing That Philip J. Cook and Wayland Ellis Both Agree On

Sometimes an idea comes along that is so compelling that even polar opposites of a particular ideological or public policy spectrum are willing to at least grudgingly embrace.  And sometimes that idea is not only not a new one, but has existed since practically forever yet has been largely underutilized all the same despite all the evidence in its favor.

Take the following two authors and researchers:  Philip J. Cook (author of Paying the Tab:  The Costs And Benefits of Alcohol Control) and Wayland Ellis (author of Abolish the Drinking Age:  The Conservative Case Against Alcohol Regulation).  The two can be considered to be each other's foil in many ways in regards to alcohol.  Cook is American, pro-21, pro-regulation, leans a bit more liberal than conservative, and leans more communitarian than libertarian.  In contrast, Ellis is British, anti-21, anti-regulation, conservative by British standards, and leans quite libertarian even by American standards.   

And yet, there is one thing that they both agree on:  the single most effective public policy measure to reduce alcohol-related harms is higher alcohol prices, such as through higher alcohol taxes.  Cook arrives at that conclusion enthusiastically while Ellis arrives at it perhaps a bit grudgingly, but the conclusion is the same regardless despite their otherwise polar opposite views on the drinking age and alcohol regulation in general.  Now that really says something!

And it pans out, given the reams upon reams of research evidence that arrive at that same conclusion in a wide variety of times, places, demographics, and functional forms.  Twenty-One Debunked generally agrees more with Cook than Ellis on most of the topics under discussion with the notable exception of the drinking age of course.  Especially since Cook's own 1984 study with Tauchen was one of the now-outdated studies that convinced the feds to force states to raise the drinking age to 21 in the first place.  We agree with Cook on some things, Ellis on others, and clearly agree with both on the issue of alcohol taxes.  Alcohol prices relative to inflation and income are currently at a record low in the USA, in no small part because taxes are at at a record low as well.  And there really is no overarching benefit to society for alcohol to be that cheap, while there is plenty of proven and serious harm from the excessive drinking (among all ages) that such cheap alcohol encourages.

Twenty-One Debunked supports lowering the drinking age to 18, while also raising and equalizing the federal alcohol taxes across the board to $24/proof-gallon, equal to the inflation-adjusted 1991 level for distilled spirits.  That would be a little more than an extra dollar for a six-pack of beer or an extra dollar on a fifth of liquor.  That could be done more gradually by first raising it to $16/proof-gallon and then to $24 a year later. Additionally, we would also be fine with (though not necessarily wedded to) the idea of setting a minimum price of $0.50-0.75 per standard drink or at least banning the practice of retailers selling alcohol below cost (already banned in many states).   Cook would support the latter idea of a price floor while Ellis would most likely not, but both would at least support higher alcohol taxes.

So what are we waiting for?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Would A Price Floor for Alcohol Be A Good Idea?

With the issue of alcohol taxes now coming to the forefront lately, there is also another policy measure designed to reduce the problems and externalities associated with excessive consumption of alcohol:  minimum unit pricing.  That is, a setting a minimum price per standard unit* of alcohol, which like excise taxes would increase the price of the cheap stuff (that is favored by heavy drinkers) but unlike taxes would have no effect on beverages whose price is already higher than the new minimum.  After all, the effect of taxes operates through the mechanism of higher prices, so the public health benefits should be similar for both taxes and a price floor, or some combination of the two.  The biggest differences would be in efficiency (who bears the costs) versus revenue (who gets it)--though even for taxes alone, the largest effect size, at the margins, would be on the heaviest drinkers as well, for obvious reasons.

One can see the effects of a price floor on both cheap alcohol in general as well as in bulk quantities.  Take a 40 oz. bottle of 8% ABV malt liquor that now costs $2.99.  That contains a whopping 5.3 standard American drinks*.  If the price floor was then set at $0.75 per standard drink, for example, the price would go up to $3.99, a small but significant jump that really would add up for a heavy (and/or very young) drinker.  A six-pack of 12 oz. cans of say, Budweiser (5% ABV) that sells for $5.99 per six-pack, already above that hypothetical price floor at $1.00 per standard drink--and that is a low-ball price for a six-pack in the USA--would be unaffected.  A 12-pack of the same product selling for $9.99 would still be unaffected, and an 18-pack could be sold for as little as $13.50.  But that 30-pack now on sale for $14.99?  Well, the price for that would go up to $22.50.  And that 15.5 gallon keg that currently sells for $100 or less, excluding deposit?  Well, that contains about 168 standard drinks, so the minimum price for that would jump to $126 per keg.  And those prices for bulk quantities would really add up for anyone who frequently throws or attends keggers or other large drinking parties--leading to somewhat fewer such occasions and/or less beer to go around at such parties.  And now combine that with even a modest tax hike and you get a marginal effect size that is greater than either measure alone.

What about the hard stuff?  Well, we see that while most of it would remain unafffected by a price floor, the cheaper end of the scale would be nonetheless be affected as well in a similar manner to beer.  Take a "handle" (i.e. a 1.75 L bottle) of the cheapest vodka, whiskey, or whatever that currently costs $12.99 in some places.  That contains about 40 shots of 1.5 oz each, so at 80 proof that would equal roughly 40 standard drinks per bottle.  If the minimum price were set at $0.75 per standard drink drink, that bottle would now cost about $30.  Even a mere $0.50 per drink floor price would raise the price of the cheap booze to around $20 or so.  So while distilled spirits would be the least affected category overall, they would in fact be even more affected than beer at the lower end.   And this would also lesssen the yawning disparity between on- and off-premise prices, thus reducing the urge to "pre-load" or "front-load" with cheap booze before going out to the bar, pub, or club.

So yes, Twenty-One Debunked would be fine with a price floor of $0.75 per standard drink, just as we would be fine with raising alcohol taxes across the board to as high as $24/proof-gallon for all beverage types.   A combination of both would also be good as well.  Given how moderate and responsible drinkers would barely be affected at all by either measure as noted (as long as the thresholds are not set much higher than the ones above), they hardly qualify as blunt instruments and are in fact highly efficient in practice.  That's a small price to pay for liberty.

* One "standard American drink" or "standard unit" of alcohol is equal to one measure of the following:  one 12 ounce can/mug/glass of beer at 5% ABV, one 5 ounce glass of wine at 12% ABV, or one 1.5 ounce shot of distilled spirits at 80 proof (40% ABV).  This is known as alcohol equivalence.  Contrary to popular opinion, these all contain the same amount of alcohol.  So keep this in mind if or when you drink.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Of Death And Taxes, Part Deux

While the opioid epidemic has recently been declared a public health emergency, what if we were to tell you that there is another drug epidemic that kills even more people (a whopping 88,000 per year vs. 65,000 per year for opioid and all other drug overdoses combined), a number that has actually been increasing in recent years?  And that number, though staggering in itself, is merely the tip of a very large iceberg of injury, illness, crime, violence, motor vehicle crashes, family breakdown, addiction, and other social costs linked to this deadly yet ubiquitous substance.  Meanwhile, the powers that be are responding to this epidemic with a collective shrug for the most part.  I think the reader would figure out by now that we are talking about alcohol.

And aside from its overall banality, what is particularly notable about the alcohol epidemic is how ageist our response has been.  While the epidemic clearly affects all ages, the powers that be have been focusing in laser-like fashion on people under 21 while largely ignoring people over 21, despite the fact that people over 21 make up the vast majority of this epidemic.  Not only does this scapegoat young people for largely adult problems, but it also hinders any real solutions to such problems as well.  It's basically the "pink elephant in the room".

Fortunately, we know now after decades of reams of research evidence that there is in fact a very simple solution for reducing the death rates and other harms of excessive drinking.  And that solution is raising alcohol taxes.   The higher the price of alcoholic beverages, the fewer deaths and other alcohol-related problems occur, all else being equal.  Even modest increases seem to have a significant impact.   We know this, yet not only have the powers that be generally let the alcohol taxes lag behind inflation, but have actually moved to lower such taxes as a lesser-known part of the new Republican tax bill.  

So what should the ideal alcohol tax be?  According to researchers, the externality costs of alcohol are estimated to be around $45-58 per proof-gallon, yet the federal tax on distilled spirits is $13.50 per proof-gallon, and for wine and beer it varies but tends to hover between $4 and $5 per proof-gallon.  And while state and local alcohol taxes vary, they are also generally very modest in most states, especially for beer.  So there is a very wide range by which such taxes can be raised while still being socially efficient.

Of course, those figures are now effectively even lower now that the Republican tax bill has lowered such rates even further for roughly the first 100,000 proof-gallons of all alcoholic beverage categories across the board.  But the aforementioned rates still remain the top rates above the respective thresholds in the now-tiered system.  Beer was always tiered with a reduced rate for the first 60,000 barrels, but now that reduced rate is even lower still, and for the first time ever distilled spirits now enjoy a reduced rate for the first 100,000 proof-gallons.  The rate structure is not inherently bad in itself, of course, but both the new and old rates are simply too low.

Twenty-One Debunked believes that, along with lowering the drinking age to 18, that alcohol taxes should be raised significantly.  Specifically, we support raising and equalizing the federal tax on all alcoholic beverages to the inflation-adjusted 1991 level for distilled spirits, which would be $24 per proof-gallon in 2016 dollars.  It should also be simplified by getting rid of all credits and lower tax rates, with perhaps the exception of ones for the first X number of proof-gallons produced by very small domestic producers.  At the state level, it would also be good to equalize alcohol taxes across all beverage types, while allowing localities to levy their own alcohol taxes (including sales and gross excise taxes) as they see fit.  The latter is especially important for college towns.

Even a smaller hike, such as to $16 per proof-gallon across the board, would likely save thousands of lives per year according to researchers.  And of course it would also raise more revenue.  As for job losses, the best research suggests that the net effect is actually neutral or even positive with respect to jobs overall.  So it should be a no-brainer.  A win-win-win situation for everyone but the alcohol industry, basically.

Oh, and by the way:  craft breweries (both macro and micro) not only exist in high-tax Canada, but actually appear to be thriving over there.  Keep in mind that the tax hikes we propose would still leave American beverages cheaper than Canadian beverages.  So even if we raise such taxes dramatically without reduced rates or credits for small producers, they will likely continue to thrive here as well (at least if such tax hikes are phased in somewhat gradually).

Don't get us wrong, Twenty-One Debunked does not believe that alcohol is inherently evil or anything like that.   We are certainly not in league with the neo-dry lobby!  But when we as a society fail to appreciate that alcohol has a very real dark side for all ages, there are very serious consequences to doing so.  History speaks for itself.  So what are we waiting for?

Friday, December 22, 2017

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season

(This is a public service announcement)

It is that time of year again when the holidays are upon us, and many of us Americans (and around the world) will be celebrating with alcohol and/or other substances.  We at Twenty-One Debunked would like to remind everyone to be safe and celebrate responsibly.  There is absolutely no excuse for drunk driving at any age, period.  We cannot stress this enough.  It's very simple--if you plan to drive, don't drink, and if you plan to drink, don't drive.  It's really not rocket science, folks.  And there are numerous ways to avoid mixing the two.  Designate a sober driver, take a cab, use public transportation, crash on the couch, or even walk if you have to.  Or stay home and celebrate there.  Or don't drink--nobody's got a gun to your head.  Seriously.  And the same goes for other psychoactive substances as well, and a fortiori when combined with alcohol. 

ARRIVE ALIVE, DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!!!   If you plan to drink, don't forget to think!  The life you save may very well be your own.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Latest 2017 MTF Survey Results

The results of the annual Monitoring the Future survey for 2017 are in.  And here is a brief summary of the results:
  • Alcohol use in general as well as "binge" drinking among all three grades (8, 10, 12) remains at the same record-low levels as 2016.  
  • Tobacco use overall in all grades continued its long decline to a new record low in 2017, particularly for cigarettes, though vaping (e-cigarettes) did increase slightly in 2017 after decreasing a bit in 2016.
  • Cannabis use went up slightly in 2017 from 2016 after declining for several years, though generally still remains below 2012 levels, and of course far below the peaks in both 1979 and 1997.  This dovetails with another recent study of legalization states which found no significant increase in teen use post-legalization.
  • Opioids, including heroin, remain at very low levels among teens, while the opioid epidemic continues largely unabated among adults.
  • Inhalant use went up slightly among 8th graders after a long decline, though still remains at low levels.
  • All other substances decreased or saw no significant change either way in 2017.
So what can we conclude from all of this?  First, we can conclude that cannabis legalization did not increase teen cannabis use as the fearmongers claimed it would. Nor did the use of other substances increase as the "gateway" theory would have predicted--in fact, most other substances decreased.   So much for that theory.  Second, it would appear that e-cigarette vaping is to some extent displacing cigarette smoking, rather than exerting a "gateway" effect as was often feared--smoking would have increased along with vaping if those fears were true, and in fact the opposite has occured instead.  Which any way you slice it, is ultimately a net win for public health even if vaping is not completely harmless.  In fact, the drop in cigarette smoking was much faster from 2013-2015 than it was in the years before or since, coinciding with the period of greatest increase in e-cigarette use.   And finally, we can conclude that the kids are (mostly) alright, at least compared to the many adults around them who continue to drink themselves to death and/or rot and rust in opioids.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

For Alcohol, Tobacco, or Cannabis, 18 Is High Enough

Having established that cannabis legalization was not a disaster after all, and that the 21 drinking age has been the greatest alcohol policy failure since Prohibition, it may seem a bit odd that Twenty-One Debunked has grudgingly supported cannabis legalization with a 21 age limit thus far.  The reason for this was, of course, pure pragmatism, as the odds of legalization actually passing with an age limit of 18 would have been almost nil in the critical early years of 2012-2016.  It was, after all, the lesser evil compared with continued prohibition.  But five years and eight states later after the first initiatives passed (albeit narrowly) in November 2012, we feel it is now time to really tackle the issue of cannabis age limits.

To put it bluntly, there is absolutely no legitimate scientific or public health reason why the age limit for cannabis should be any higher than 18.  Zip, zilch, nada.  And while cannabis (though safer than alcohol and tobacco) is not completely harmless, and there is of course some evidence that it can be more harmful before age 18 and especially before 15, there is still no hard scientific evidence that it is any more harmful at 18 than it is at 21, 25, or even 30 for that matter.  Any claims of such are merely glib conjecture rather than real science.  In fact, a recent study by the American Psychological Association on the long term physical and mental health effects of teen and young adult cannabis use should be seen as the final nail in the coffin in that regard.  One possible reason for the null results (i.e. no significant differences between groups regardless of cannabis use trajectory) not always echoed by other studies may be the relative lack of participants who began before age 15 and the relative lack of ultra-heavy users at any age in this study, but overall it should greatly alleviate the worst fears about both legalization itself as well as late adolescent and young adult cannabis use in general.

And after reviewing the most major studies of drugs and drug policy (with cannabis being the most heavily studied of all) throughout history, the results of this recent study should really not come as much of a surprise.  Unless, of course, you have a vested interest in maintaining prohibition and/or are simply a bigoted, intolerant, ageist jerk.  But in that case, you probably wouldn't be caught dead reading this blog.

Additionally, the issue of the black market comes to mind as well.  Given the fact that cannabis use tends to peak around age 18-20 or so, an age limit of 21 would be more likely to encourage at least some persistence of the black market compared with an age limit of 18, particularly if taxes are high.  After all, dealers don't ask for ID, and such an issue for cannabis would be more likely than alcohol or tobacco since the former has had decades of black market history and is less bulky per dose than the other two.   And such dealers would probably continue to sell to people under 18 as well, including in schools, as they currently do under prohibition.  So any concerns about "trickle-down effects" of an age limit of 18 need to be put in such perspective.  Besides, any such "trickle-down" can be greatly curbed by simply capping how much 18-20 year olds can buy in the stores (say, no more than an eighth of an ounce per transaction, and no more than one transaction per day).  You know, kinda like Twenty-One Debunked has long advocated for alcohol sales.

And let's not forget the issue of social cohesion as well.  Few things are more inherently communal than sharing a joint, blunt, bowl, bong, or whatever sort of cannabis smoking implement--in fact, that is literally the origin of the term "joint".  And if the 21 age limit is to be taken seriously to its logical conclusion, it would mean that every time someone over 21 passes it around to someone under 21, a crime has technically been committed.   At least during prohibition, everyone is in the same illegal boat in that regard, but a 21 age limit would divide the 18-24 year old demographic in that regard, potentially inhibiting social cohesion.  Not to mention it gives people over 21 one more thing to "lord it over" people under 21.  At a time in history where social cohesion appears to be at a record low overall, we need that kind of additional division like we need a hole in the head!

But truly the strongest argument of all for an age limit no higher than 18 is one of civil rights.  The age of majority (i.e. legal adulthood) is 18 in nearly all states, and denying legal adults the right to decide what they put into their own bodies has no place in a free society.  Old enough to fight and vote = old enough to drink and toke.  'Nuff said.