Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Drink Nothing Day!

You have probably heard of Buy Nothing Day. Celebrated on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day of the year, this self-explanatory holiday is meant to be a protest against consumerism. But perhaps you didn't know that the biggest drinking day of the year is the day before Thanksgiving. That's right, it's not New Year's Eve, but Thanksgiving Eve, also known as "Blackout Wednesday."

Thus, three years ago we at Twenty-One Debunked have decided to create our own protest holiday, Drink Nothing Day. It is designed as a way for people 21 and over to show solidarity with those under 21 by not drinking any alcohol that day. To observe this holiday, which can only logically be done by folks over 21, one must not drink any form of alcohol at all during the entire 24 hours of that date, as well as the following day until sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner (or until the sun goes down, whichever occurs earlier). Then, one may drink, but one must give thanks that prohibition no longer applies to him or her. Other ways to observe include wearing two black armbands: one to symbolize those soldiers who died before being able to drink legally in the very country they served, and another to symbolize those under 21 who were killed by a drunk driver over 21.

We will continue to observe this holiday until the drinking age is lowered to 18 in all 50 states.  And remember, whether you choose to observe it or not, never drink and drive.  If you plan to drink, don't drive, and if you plan to drive, don't drink.  It's just not worth the risk.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

NYC Raises Tobacco Purchase Age to 21

Much to our chagrin, Mayor Bloomberg has finally signed the bill that would raise the tobacco purchase age to 21 in New York City.  He was originally against such a move in 2006, but the City Council finally convinced him, which was really not that difficult to do considering his history as a jerk and a nanny-stater.

The bill, which bans the sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes (but not paraphernalia) to anyone under 21, takes effect in 180 days from today, which will be on May 19, 2014.  NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will be in power then, and it remains to be seen how he will handle such a law.  We hope he will listen to reason and repeal it before it goes into effect.

As we have previously noted unequivocally while the issue was first being discussed, Twenty-One Debunked does NOT support raising the age limit for cigarettes to 21.  The one bright spot to the new law is that, unlike with alcohol, it does not apply to possession or use of tobacco (currently no age limit), or to the sale of paraphernalia (which will remain 18).  However, that does not make it any less ageist, and it will only expand the city's already extensive black market for untaxed/out-of-state/stolen/counterfeit cigarettes.  What allegedly works in the small town of Needham, MA (which is debatable) would be unlikely to work in a place like NYC.  While another bill was passed today to increase penalties for black-market sellers, it does not get to the root of the problem:  extremely high cigarette taxes compared to surrounding areas.  And the 21 age limit only pours gasoline on the fire.  I would bet that cigarette retailers in Westchester County (where the age is 18) and Long Island and New Jersey (where it's 19) would probably be the greatest beneficiaries of the new law, in addition to the mobsters and terrorists that profit from the black market in the city.

As a result, Twenty-One Debunked is calling for an all-ages boycott of all tobacco products in the five boroughs of NYC, beginning on May 19, 2014 when the law takes effect (and lasting until repeal).  If you live in the city and smoke, be sure to (legally) buy your smokes elsewhere--or better yet, quit.  Tourists should also avoid buying tobacco while visiting.  The more die-hard boycotters might even want to include alcohol on the do-not-buy list, for obvious reasons.  Watch the tax revenue shrink precipitously.

For this and many other reasons, we hereby say "good riddance" to lame-duck Nanny Bloomberg when he finally steps down on New Year's Eve.  Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Friday, November 15, 2013

To Puerto Rico: Don't Raise the Drinking Age!

There has been a recent proposal in Puerto Rico to raise the legal drinking age from 18 to 21.  If it passes, it would leave only the Virgin Islands as the last remaining holdout where the drinking age is 18, since Guam raised it to 21 in 2010 (much to our chagrin).  Aside from the tired old canards about "safety" and "protecting young people" (from themselves), there is also that pesky 10% highway funding penalty that Puerto Rico has had to deal with every year since 1988, and their flagging economy can clearly use a boost.  And this was not the first time such a hike in the drinking age was proposed:  in the 1990s, there were two failed attempts to raise the drinking age to 21, which most of the people did not support.

While we believe that such a law is unlikely to pass, Twenty-One Debunked would still like to urge the island to avoid making the same mistakes as the mainland.  That is, Puerto Rico should keep the drinking age at 18, while strengthening and enforcing it better.  To do so, they should:
  • Increase retailer compliance checks to help keep booze out of the hands of people under 18.
  • Increase the penalties for selling or furnishing alcohol to people under 18.
  • Increase alcohol education programs in schools and elsewhere.
  • Bring back the successful community coalitions formed in the 1990s to fight underage drinking and other alcohol problems.
  • Crack down harder on drunk driving, drunk violence, and drunk and disorderly conduct among all ages.
  • To reduce traffic deaths and other alcohol-related problems, and raise much-needed revenue at the same time, raise the alcohol taxes (especially beer) and the gas tax.
  • Above all, never back down.
Puerto Rico has already seen great success in reducing underage drinking and traffic deaths since the 1980s, and they did so without raising the drinking age one iota.  They should continue to build on the successes of the past in order to have a better future.  And it is completely unnecessary to violate anyone's civil rights to do so.