Saturday, August 1, 2009

About-Face, About Time!

You know the 21 drinking age is on its last legs when one of its former supporters, substance abuse expert Dr. Morris Chafetz, has a sudden change of heart a quarter-century later. Remember that presidential commission in 1982? The one that gave 39 recommendations, #8 of which was to raise the drinking age to 21? Well, Dr. Chafetz was on that commission, and he now calls his decision to support Legal Age 21 "the single most regrettable decision" in his career.

Now THAT really says something! Especially given the length of his career. And he's no hippy-dippy or wild party animal either. Dr. Chafetz was the founding director of the NIAAA (pronounced "nee-ahh") beginning in 1970, a psychiatrist, and a renowned expert on alcohol.

He also notes, as 21 Debunked has, that the alcohol-related traffic fatality decline in the US was virtually identical to that in Canada, a country that did not raise the drinking age to 21. Even NHTSA admits this, and it is pretty tough to explain away. This fact alone puts a huge question mark over the specious claim the Legal Age 21 saves any lives at all. Additionally, he echoes the view that the 21 drinking age created unintended negative consequences, such as more deaths and injuries off the roads from clandestine, underground binge drinking (not unlike Prohibition).

As a result, we at 21 Debunked propose an honor for anyone who once fervently supported Legal Age 21 but has finally seen the light. Three cheers for the first ever recipient of the Chafetz award!

The tide, my friends, is turning as we speak. What better time than now?

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