Mark Kleiman, Professor of Public Policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs and contributor to The Atlantic, recently penned a blog post called “What To Do About Drugs (Abridged)“, a provocative list of drug policy reform ideas. The list covered a wide variety of topics, and his last three proposals deal with alcohol and the legal drinking age. Here they are:
“10. Raise taxes on alcohol from the current average of a dime per drink to something closer to a dollar.
11. Make getting drunk (as opposed to drinking) the object of a big negative-advertising campaign. Goal: make being drunk, or having been drunk, something people—especially young people—try to hide, rather than something they brag about.
12. Abolish the age restriction on alcohol.”
Responding to some of his critics in a follow-up post, Kleiman wrote,
“Note that the drinking-age idea was paired with a tenfold increase in alcohol taxes to about a dollar a drink, roughly doubling the retail price of alcohol. That, plus a zero-tolerance policy on drinking and driving for teenagers, would get you most of the benefits of the current 21-year-old MLDA (and lots of benefits the MLDA can’t provide) without making tens of millions of teenagers into scofflaws. It’s a good general principle that a law that’s widely broken is a bad law, and 90% of American 18-year-olds have sampled alcohol, despite the laws against it.”
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