Alaska Considers Lowering the Drinking Age for Soldiers

Lee Doren, 202-331-2259

Nicole Ciandella, 202-331-2773

Washington, D.C., April 13, 2011 – Alaska State Rep. Bob Lynn (R-Anchorage) has proposed a bill that would allow anyone 18 years and older with a military ID to drink alcohol in Alaska.  The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a non-profit public policy organization, believes this is a step in the right direction.  It not only would make the law consistent with a society that sends young men and women to fight and die for their Country, but it may have long-term cultural benefits as well.


In most European countries the drinking age is far lower than 21. Some, like Italy, for example, have no drinking age at all. Yet, the rates of alcoholism and teenage problem drinking are far greater in the United States. The likely reason for the disparity is the way in which American teens are introduced to alcohol versus their European counterparts. While French or Italian children learn to think of alcohol as part of a meal, such as a glass of wine at dinner, American teens learn to drink in the unmonitored environment of a basement or the backwoods with their friends.  A 2009 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Health, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded that 72 percent of graduating high school seniors already consumed alcohol.

Statement by Michelle Minton, CEI’s Director of Insurance Studies

The current age limit has created a culture of hidden drinking and disrespect for the law. Regardless of whether a person is in the military or simply an adult civilian, he or she ought to be treated as such. If society believes you are responsible enough to go to war, get married, vote, or sign a contract, then you are responsible enough to buy a bottle of beer and toast to living in a country that respects and protects individual rights. It is long past time the law caught up with that reality.

Minton is available for comment on this issue and can be reached at 202-331-2251 or [email protected]

Read more by Michelle Minton