Point/Counterpoint | Should IC lower its age requirement for bars?

Individuals under 21 are not allowed in drinking establishments after 10 p.m. This includes the majority of bars in downtown Iowa City. Opinion writers Shahab Khan and Chris Klepch debate on what ages should be allowed in bars.

January 31, 2023

Lower age to 20

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

I do not care if people go to bars underaged.

American culture has made underage drinking a rite of passage for high schoolers and college freshmen. With that being said, underage drinking is a public health crisis because it leads to a higher risk of alcohol dependency.

Therefore, it would be wise to prevent anyone under the age of 20 from entering a bar past 10 p.m.

When students are educated about the dangers of underage drinking, the medical effects of alcohol are rarely contextualized, thus leading to a false belief that alcohol is a benign substance.

The National Library of Medicine found that excessive alcohol consumption correlates with higher rates of violent antisocial behavior and suicide. Recently, medical professionals who examined the effects of alcohol on heavy drinkers found that alcohol caused worse health outcomes than heroin.

Underage drinkers are more likely to develop the habits that will put them on course to become alcoholics. This is because they are more likely to engage in binge drinking compared to drinkers who waited until they were older.

When we are teenagers, our brains are still maturing, and we are not able to make the most informed decisions regarding our health. As a result, when underaged individuals begin to drink, they tend to binge drink, thus making them susceptible to developing an addiction.

Preventing teenagers from entering a bar — where alcohol is accessible and everywhere — is important if we want to guarantee better life outcomes.

Lower age to 18

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

There are many responsibilities given at the age of 18. Why can’t the right to enter bars be one of them?

Why is it that one can enlist in the military at 17 years old, emancipate at 16 years old per Iowa law, but not be able to go to the bar past 10 p.m.?

In Iowa City, you must be 21 years old or older to enter a bar after 10 p.m. However, those who are underage will find ways around this law. A popular method is to turn to websites or people to order identity forgeries – fake IDs – to get past a bar’s bouncer. This has turned into a silly arms race of bars utilizing ID scanners and students buying fake IDs with scanning capabilities.

When an age restriction is put in place, it potentially incentivizes those who wish to enter a bar to seek ways inside. There is a thrill given to illegal entry. That, combined with social pressures induced on younger people, can be a potential for early alcohol abuse. Ironically, higher age limits make entry into bar establishments “cooler.”

Venues that typically only allow individuals 21 or older make exceptions to allow for performers who are underage to enter.

People should have the freedom to enter bars at the same approximate age that they arrive at college. Understanding and evaluating risks that we take is more important than constraining entry to an arbitrary age limit that gets ignored anyway.

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