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Mr. RITTER. Would the gentleman from the PTA care to comment?
Mr. FEGE. You obviously raise a larger question than raising the drinking age to 21, and it is a societal question: the question of why a society consumes drugs and alcohol.
Mr. RITTER. But is it not also true that when people want to do something like this, it is like a balloon; if you push in one direction, it kind of expands at the other?
Mr. FEGE. Well, I think we have to take a look at a more comprehensive Federal, State, and local policy. And the law focuses primarily on the 18- to 21-year-old, especially as it pertains to problems in the high school, as it pertains to problems on the road. But the much larger problem, one of the problems that we have had in getting a handle on, it is the larger problem of the consumer society.
We think that this law would protect the age group. We have a preponderance of information. I think it was Congressman Richardson or Congressman Dowdy that talked about States' rights. We were advised several years ago that perhaps this would be a State problem and that the States should solve it.
As Dr. Yeager has testified, we have now a patchwork of differing ages which I think even complicates the judicial system. I think it really creates an unfairness in that system between States and between competing jursidictions.
There is no question in my mind that at least in that age group with the information we have that it does reduce fatalities, and it would achieve the objective, I think, that this committee wants; and that is, not only reducing fatalities, but in conjunction with other programs reduce the amount of alcoholism. And I think we have got to deal with the marijuana question and the substance abuse question as well.
Mr. RITTER. I represent a district, the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania-Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton area-which borders on the State of New Jersey. And I would like to compliment the chairman's State and Senator Graves and Governor Kean for having taken the step of raising the drinking age there to 21, because in that border area there were just time again you would pick up the. newspaper on a Sunday morning and you would read all about it. There was some big accident, and it turns out the kids were coming home from a bar over the border in New Jersey in Phillipsburg.
And I can see how those border problems, personally having lived through it and read all about it, how they exist in these other States. And certainly this legislation would go a long way to ameliorate that.
And I yield back.
Let me just say that the gentleman from New York and the gentleman from Pennsylvania have both raised the peripheral question of vandalism, and I am hopeful that at our next hearing we will have some expert testimony that will go into in some depth the side benefit of this piece of legislation and the whole question of putting a rein on the vandalism that flows from young people and alcohol that is, as I say, a secondary but very important benefit of this legislation over and above the main thrust of the legislation which is to deal with driving and drinking on the part of young people.
And so we hope that we will be able to develop that point as well in our next hearing.
Let me express my appreciation to all of the witnesses of this panel. You have been very helpful, and I thank you very much.
Our last panel is made up of two individuals. The first gentleman that we are pleased to hear from is Mr. Michael Birkley who is representing the National Licensed Beverage Association. And we are also pleased to have with us today Mr. Terrance Micek of the National Council of State Liquor Administrators.
Gentlemen, we welcome you to the committee and appreciate your participation. And as with our other witnesses, your statement will be made a part of the record in their entirety, and you may feel free to proceed as you see fit.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL M. BIRKLEY, ON BEHALF OF NATIONAL
LICENSED BEVERAGE ASSOCIATION; AND TERRANCE D. MICEK, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY-TREASURER, NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE LIQUOR ADMINISTRATORS
Mr. BIRKLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My name is Michael Birkley. I am the executive director of the Tavern League of the State of Wisconsin, which is affiliated with the National Licensed Beverage Association headquartered now in Alexandria, Va.
NLBA provides public affairs, education, and research services to licensed beverage retailers, operators of cocktail lounges, restaurants, nightclubs, and taverns throughout the country.
Our 30,000 members are responsible business men and women whose business is taking good care of their customers and protecting their guests, their neighbors, and their communities against the effects of too much drinking by the irresponsible few.
As are most of our neighbors and all of the witnesses today, because we have children, our members are deeply concerned about the need to reduce and prevent alcohol-related highway crashes. As responsible dispensers, hosts, and hostesses, we do our best to control against intoxication, and prevent service to minors, and to arrange safe transportation for those who drink too much despite our best efforts to control their drinking.
But licensed professionals only serve approximately 20 percent of the alcohol sold in the United States and only supervise about 20 percent of the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Eighty percent is served by amateurs in private, unlicensed settings.
And as Mr. Ritter pointed out, you only need to read the morning papers to know that we cannot do the job on our own. Alcohol abuse is the Nation's No. 1 alcohol, health, and social problem, and drunk driving is the No. 1 killer of young adults. This is a national problem and a national disgrace. And we believe that helping the States to prevent alcohol abuse and alcohol-related highway crashes is an appropriate and critical Federal responsibility.
year period 1970 to 1975 which reveal what Philip Cook of Duke University termed "surprising results.”
Fatal crash rates for 18- to 20-year-old drivers were actually 8 percent higher where the legal drinking age was 21 than where it remained 18 during that period of time. Further analysis, however, revealed that this 8 percent is not statistically significant. Indeed, the test confirmed the null hypothesis; that is, one can conclude from these data and also the earlier National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study of 1974 that higher and local legal drinking ages do not effect differences in fatal highway crashes among 18- to 20-year-old drivers in the long term.
Finally, it should be pointed out and it should be pointed out by everyone who cites the Insurance Institute study, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studies or the Highway Safety Research Institute studies that none of those studies, including those done by Douglas at the Highway Safety Research Institute, found any significant change in highway crash involvement among 17- and 16-year-old drivers attributable to lowering or raising ing the legal drinking age.
I did not make those studies up, and the cites are here, and you can look at them. In other words, the trickle down theory somehow does not trickle down.
Scientific observations of short-term effects of raising the age and the long-term effects of higher legal drinking ages over time are sufficient, indeed, I agree; and they are sufficiently clear. Higher legal drinking ages are not effective mechanisms for reducing alcohol-related highway crashes.
The question is: "Is it appropriate?" Denying the legal drinking privilege to 18., 19., and 20-year-old adults is not only ineffectual; it is not an appropriate social response to the Nation's alcohol abuse or highway safety problems. If it is not unconstitutional to deny the legal drinking privilege to this adult minority for no compelling public purpose, it is unquestionably contrary to our principles of justice and equality to deny any adult privilege to a particular adult minority on the grounds that some members of that minority may abuse the privilege.
We of the National Licensed Beverage Association urge you to reject this useless and unnecessary assault on the privileges of our Nation's young adults and to focus instead on more effective and more appropriate mechanisms for preventing alcohol abuse among our young people and reducing the incidence of alcohol-related highway crashes on our Nation's highways. And in that we stand ready to help, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to submit for the record my response to Senator Packwood and Dr. Williams' criticism of the Blaney Institute study. It would have helped had he read the study.
Thank you very much.
ON H.R. 3870
Adolescent and adult alcohol abuse is the nation's number one health and social problem as it is in most of the industrialized nations of the world. It is also one of the most frequently studied and heavily researched areas of human behavior.
In the past decade, hundreds of scientific investigators for the
Just as officials in those states have been perplexed by the negative consequences of their actions, the public generally finds it difficult to understand how legally restricting the sale, purchase, use and possession of alcohol could result in more alcohol abuse among those to whom the restrictions apply. Given an understanding of the causes, effects, nature and extent of adolescent drinking and youthful alcohol abuse, and an understanding of the functions and limitations of formal social policies (laws) in controlling these widespread social behaviors, the answers seem almost embarrassingly obvious.
Drinking is essentially a learned, adult social behavior. Young people learn about drinking as they learn about table manners and other adult behaviors; by observation, imitation and experimentation. Interviews with first and second graders reveal that they know a good deal about drinking and its effects on others, and they have opinions about why, where, when, how and how much people should drink. By age thirteen, most young people have had their first drink, usually at home with their parents and families,
2 holidays and special occasions.
Sociologists have found that where drinking is a normative aspect of adult social behavior, the onset of social drinking outside the home is a normative aspect of the transition from childhood to adulthood. In their historic study of this transition-marking behavior, Jessor and Jessor found that, by measuring normal developmental shifts in attitudes toward independence, achievement, religiousity, authority, peers and parents, one can predict when an adolescent is ready to make the transition; to begin experimenting with adult
3 drinking behaviors.
The Jessors found, as many others have, that whatever the legal drinking age may be, the effective drinking age; the age at which most young people begin drinking in social settings outside the
4 home, is sixteen. Among American high school students less than fifteen percent of the freshmen, but more than fifty percent