Drinking Age: 30 Years Later

SCRANTON — It was 30 years ago this week that President Ronald Reagan signed the Minimum Age Drinking Act into law, effectively setting the age of 21 as the legal drinking age across the country.

Before July 17, 1984 different states had different drinking ages.

In Pennsylvania it was still 21, but it was 18 in New York, and 19 in New Jersey.

The act that President Reagan signed was based on a study that said by 21 the brain is better developed to make important decisions.

Now 30 years later, it is still unclear if the law has made a positive impact on teenage drinking.

“I recall personally we used to go up to Binghamton and Kirkwood. And when we would go away for the summer, you would go down to the shore. We used to go to Wildwood was the big place to go at that time and it was 18 to drink,” said Tom Barrett.

For almost 40 years now, Tom Barrett has owned and run Joyce’s Cafe, a bar in the Minooka section of Scranton.

He thinks the law helps prevent drunk driving among younger people. But he said if you’re old enough to join the military, you should be old enough to drink alcohol, too.

“I think it’s kind of sad that if someone is in the military and they come in, they can’t have a drink because they’re not 21, but they were just fighting for us somewhere to protect us and that I think, like it’s good and it’s bad. You know what I mean?”

Among college students in the area, the feeling is the same.

In China, the drinking age is 18 years old, although the law is not strictly enforced.

Newswatch 16 spoke with a graduate student from China at the University of Scranton.

“It doesn’t matter that much, like you can drink anytime, so you won’t get really drunk. So it won’t be a big deal, actually,” said Wejing Hao of China.

Other college students agreed.

“It works in other countries where its lower, so if it was going to be 18, I think it would work for us here, just because I know a majority of the kids in college start drinking and they’re underage anyway,” said Julia Harrison of Scranton, a University of Scranton student.

10 comments

    • E

      LKREU Whoever told you there is no drinking age in Europe is a moron and you are one as well for believing it. You must be from Scranton. lol.

  • tom

    What does joining the military have to do with drinking?That is such a stupid remark-sounds like typical NEPA thinking.

  • Betty Casey

    I think that if our 18 yr olds can fight for our country then they should be d enought to drink. And if the President believed that an 18 yr olds brain isn ‘t mature enough to drink then it deff shouldn’t be mature enough make life and death decisions in fighting for our country. Maybe they should change the age to 21 to enter our military then !

  • Jim Strugler

    Lawmakers don’t care one bit how much you drink. They want everyone to drink no matter what your age is because underage drinking and DUIs are a great, easy form of income. It’s just like drugs, do as many as you want, we just want to catch you and get money. It’s why they sell it back on the streets and bring low income housing to small communities, they know it’ll bring drugs and they will be making bank

  • Franko

    First of all — have a comment from a U of S student ? Have you ever walked up Mulberry Street at night ? Some of these U of S kids are plastered out of their minds walking around….

    As for the drinking age — you know why some other countries don’t have an underage drinking problem — because they don’t have a drinking age ! The majority of the population, which includes the US, do not abuse something which is legal to do. Do kids run around hiding and abusing soda ? nope cause it’s legal. We create out own problem in this country. We instruct our kids, and so do schools, how drinking unerage is bad, but at the same time we freely share stories, and the movie industry does it as well, on how we underaege drank and went to HS and College parties with underage people. So of course kids are going to challenge it. If you do the math, the majority of the DUI arrests and accidents out there, especially in NEPA are from adults in their 30’s and 40’s..

  • Travis

    If your old enough to fight for our country your old enough to drink maybe not at a bar but I see no problem with anyone 18 or older to get drunk on a military base or private residence or purchase alcohol at a distributor really all your doing is giving these people a criminal record for something that most of us did at the same age the question isn’t if the age is right the question is why do we have such relaxed laws on drunk driving among other things but ill stay on topic

  • dan

    Drinking age should be 25, a 21 years old is far to immature to drink responsibly.
    that or maybe make a 21 year old take a maturity test before given an ID allowing them to drink.

  • Scott Holmes

    The drinking age should be 18 for those with a military ID. If they are old enough to die for our country they are old enough to have a beer.

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