One health of the person smoking themOne health of the person smoking them

One night as I was talking to my friend from the United Kingdom the topic of alcohol came up. More specifically the drinking age in the United States compared to other countries. As my friend flaunted his ability to enjoy a nice cold alcoholic beverage at the ripe age of 16 while being accompanied by his adult friend, I sat and pondered why I could not indulge in such an activity here in the states. As my curiosity grew I decided to delve in on the topic of the minimum legal drinking age in America. The more research I did, the farther back in history the changes on the view of alcohol were shown in the public’s eye. The minimum legal drinking age should be reconsidered to a lower age because a few of the many activities which can be proven to be more of a dangerous risk to your health at 18 are legal, the federal law enforces people at the age of 18 to register not only for the draft but enter or take part in a military branch if desired to, and as many experts agree the minimum drinking age should be lowered in the United States because of the many underlying factors.     As a young person enters the adult world, so to say, at the age of 18 here in the United States of America, they are considered a legal adult and can partake in various new experiences. Such as being able to get a driver’s license, go skydiving, and legally purchase cigarettes in most states. Cigarettes, as most know, are very dangerous to one’s health and to people around them. As stated in Alice’s article, “Cigarette smoking causes approximately six million preventable deaths per year (which includes non smokers who are exposed to smoke in their environments), and makes up six to eight percent of healthcare costs in the United States. In fact, tobacco kills up to half of its users.” (“Alcohol vs Cigarettes”). The health risks that cigarettes pose to the health of the person smoking them and the people who get second hand smoke from the user is immense. Cigarettes are dangerous and not to forget very addictive because of the chemicals they are made with. The obvious one is Nicotine, this substance is shown to be highly addictive and leaves the user wanting more and more because “it travels quickly to the brain when it is inhaled and can cause a feeling of temporary relaxation and/or stress relief” (“Why is it so hard to quit”). The difference in death toll between alcohol and cigarettes presents another point to be made. Reports from the CDC indicate that tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the US. There are more than 480,000 deaths annually. Compared to cigarettes, alcohol is only at a fraction with its death toll, with a total of 88,000 deaths annually in accordance with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Many people would be surprised to know that smoking while driving is just as, if not more, dangerous than using an electronic device while driving. In an report published by the National health institute, drivers were observed driving while using an electronic device and smoking. The drivers who were smoking averaged exactly twelve seconds of distraction. Those who were on their electronic device averaged only about eleven seconds.With all of this information that is available to the public, it is still legal for a young adult of 18 years of age to purchase cigarettes while alcohol is not. Just as there is a taboo with cigarettes of which makes teens seem rebellious when smoking because of the negative stigma, this is no different for alcohol.     Alcohol has a negative view among many because of the way young adults over indulge in the substance, however if people were educated more on how to drink responsibly then these stigmas would slowly fade away because of the positive feedback. In public schools and in general, kids and teens should be taught to practice drinking safely and to drink in moderation. Growing up the topic of alcohol was not an appropriate one to discuss and was always seen as negative among others. Shying away and dismissing a topic that is important just like the “birds and the bees” discussion should be told to young teens such as the effects of alcohol and what it will do to one’s body if misused. As kids grow up seeing alcohol as something they cannot touch or drink, it is formulated to be viewed as a “forbidden fruit”. The curiosity of what will happen if someone drinks too much or how it tastes and such will push teens to try it. Instead of a teen trying alcohol for the first time at a party and feeling peer pressured to continue drinking illegally without their parents knowing.     In response to this issue, parents could watch and supervise their children at home to make sure they are taken care of and are not drinking and driving after having consumed alcohol. This way the responsible adults can watch over people, then in turn these teens will become responsible in how they drink. Not only will they be supervised while drinking, the parents of those individuals may also opt in to teach the children safe drinking habits. This will ensure safe drinking when their child goes out with friends or to a party. As teens keep aging, they must realize the importance of becoming responsible people because as teens turn 18 years of age they are legally adults, which means they must sign up for the draft.     As a teenager becomes 18 years of age in the United States of America, they must sign up for the draft by federal law. Now the theory back during the Vietnam War Era was to allow 18 year olds to legally drink alcohol. Those in favor of an 18 year old minimum drinking age argued that soldiers who were legally adults and were dying for their country should be able to legally enjoy an alcoholic beverage. Many states had changed their own state laws to allow 18 years olds that were serving in the military to legally drink alcohol during the Vietnam War Era. Also back then most military bases, even those in states with a minimum drinking age of 21, would allow active duty military personnel, while on base, to consume alcoholic beverages at age 18. There were states that allowed people from age 18 to under 21 to drink what they called “three-two” alcoholic beverages. “Three-two” stood for the percentage of alcohol in the beverage (“Why is the Legal Drinking Age 21 in the United States?”). On the topic of other countries, the minimum legal drinking age of other countries varies in age quite drastically compared to the United States. The United Kingdom has some very interesting minimum legal drinking age laws that incorporate supervisions and such. In England and Wales, minors aged 16 or 17 may consume wine, beer or cider on licensed premises when ordered with a meal, and accompanied by an adult (“Our Nation’s Drinking Age”). On the subject of Europeans, Americans aged 15 and older drink only three-quarters as much alcohol as Europeans, but they are more likely to be involved in a fatal alcohol-related accident or die from other alcohol-related causes/complications. There is no single reason found that Americans are less responsible with alcohol, but some speculate that a higher legal drinking age in the U.S. leads to more destructive underage drinking habits. Portugal, Italy, Belgium all have lower rates of intoxication among 15-16 year olds compared to the US, even though they have lower minimum legal drinking age compared to the United States of America (Friese and Grube 5). The minimum legal drinking age of 21 is a federal law in the United States but the effectiveness of the law is questionable.The statistics show that the minimum legal drinking age is not as effective as people would think. The increase of drinking age to 21 was a deterrent to some, but teenagers are still drinking alcohol illegally. There will always be law- breakers and teens who want to be rebels but it seems that at most, if not all teenage parties have alcohol involved. The proof is in the pudding, asking any teenager about a party with no supervision, not only is there alcohol but other illegal substances as well. The benefits of alcohol consumption vary but the key is to drink in moderation and with responsibility. The benefits provided from alcohol consumption are: reduce your risk of developing and dying from heart disease, possibly reduce your risk of ischemic stroke which is when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked which causes severely reduced blood flow, and  possibly reduce your risk of diabetes. Some guidelines given by Mayo Clinic for moderate drinking are: beer to have 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters), distilled spirits (80 proof) to drink 1.5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters), and wine to have 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters).  Most people know that having a glass of wine is healthy, but few know the vast benefits one can acquire through having a cup of wine. Studies from Oregon State University show that red wine can burn fat. Red wine can also reduce one’s risk of a cold by up to 60% while the antioxidants in the wine serve to help in various cardiovascular ways. A study done by Texas A&M, red wine can even improve a person’s memory and cognitive function. There are very few benefits of drinking beer that people know or aware of. One benefit is that beer has plenty of vitamins, it has a high iron content which can be of great use by one’s circulatory system. According to the Journal of Agricultural and food history a compound was found inside of beer that can slow down the progression of alzheimers and parkinsons disease. Beer has the potential to increase one’s bone density through its high source of silicone.     With all the reasons listed above one should be able to open their mind to the concept of lowering the minimum legal drinking age. If not directly lowering the minimum legal drinking age then it should be considered to research the subject to more to get a definitive answer as to whether it is more dangerous to drink at a lower age or not when drinking in moderation and under adult/parent supervision. With all the conflicting views it will be certain that the parent will have the final say in deciding what is best for their child and what goes on in the household will not always be observed by the law. If the people begin to understand that developing good drinking habits and drinking responsibly is the key to benefiting as much from the experience as possible, then generations of the future can enjoy an alcoholic beverage knowing that they were taught correctly and can pass on that information to generations to come.