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Public Favors Stricter Penalties for Underage Drinking

Public Favors Stricter Penalties for Underage Drinking

Alcohol consumption more prevalent in younger Americans

by Darren K. Carlson

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans favor stronger penalties for underage drinking and are against lowering the drinking age to 18. In a July 19-22 Gallup poll, a majority -- 60% -- said the penalties for underage drinking should be stricter, 33% say they should remain as they are now, and only 6% say they should be less strict. Additionally, more than seven in 10 Americans (77%) say they oppose lowering the drinking age to 18 in all states, while 21% favor such an idea.

Perhaps not surprisingly, opinions on underage drinking laws vary by age. Support for lowering the national drinking age to 18 increases to 25% among Americans aged 18-29 years, and drops to 17% among Americans over age 50. Half of all 18-29 year olds (50%) think penalties for underage drinking should be less strict -- 64% of Americans over age 50 think they should be stricter.

The poll also finds that a majority of Americans (62%) say they drink alcoholic beverages on occasion, while 38% say they totally abstain from drinking. Younger Americans are the most likely to say they consume alcohol. Currently, 68% of 18-29 year olds say they drink, compared to 65% of 30-49 year olds and 61% of 50-64 year olds. Less than half (45%)of those over age 65 say they consume alcoholic beverages on occasion.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,038 adults, 18 years and older, conducted July 19-22, 2001. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Do you have occasion to use alcoholic beverages such as liquor, wine or beer, or are you a total abstainer?

 

 

 

Yes,
drink

No, total abstainer

   

Yes,
drink

No, total abstainer

             
 

%

%

   

%

%

2001 Jul 19-22

62

38

 

1978 Nov 10-13

66

34

       

1978 Apr 21-24

71

29

2000 Nov 13-15

64

36

 

1977 Jan 14-17

71

29

1999 Sep 23-26

64

36

 

1976

71

29

1997 Jun 26-29

61

39

 

1974 May 10-13

68

32

1996 Jun 27-30

58

42

 

1969 Jan 1-6

64

36

1994 Jun 3-6

65

35

 

1969 Feb 22-27

63

37

1992 Jan 16-19

64

35

 

1966 Jan 21-26

65

35

1990 Dec 6-9

57

43

 

1964

63

37

1989 Sep 12-15

56

44

 

1960 Mar 30-Apr 4

62

38

1989 Apr 4-9

62

38

 

1959 Dec 10-15

61

39

1988 Jul 1-7

63

37

 

1958 Jan 24-29

55

45

1988 Mar 8-12

62

38

 

1957 Mar 15-20

58

42

1987 Jul 10-13

65

35

 

1956 Jan 6-11

60

40

1987 Apr 10-13

63

37

 

1952 Dec 11-16

60

40

1987 Mar 14-18

65

35

 

1951 Aug 26-31

59

41

1985 Feb 15-18

67

33

 

1950 Jun 4-9

60

40

1984 Sep 6-9

64

36

 

1949 Dec 1-6

58

42

1984 Jul 6-9

64

36

 

1947 Oct 3-8

63

37

1983 Mar 11-14

65

35

 

1946 Jul 26-31

67

33

1982 Aug 13-16

65

35

 

1945 Nov 23-28

67

33

1981 Jan 9-12

70

30

 

1939

58

42

1979 May 4-7

69

31

       


 

Would you favor or oppose a federal law that would lower the drinking age in all states to 18?

 

BASED ON -- 534 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A; ±4 PCT. PTS.

 

 

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

       

2001 Jul 19-22

21%

77

2



 

 

Do you think the penalties for underage age drinking should be made more strict, less strict, or remain as they are now?

 

BASED ON -- 504 -- NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B; ±4 PCT. PTS.

 

 

 

More strict

Less strict

Remain as now

No opinion

         

2001 Jul 19-22

60%

6

33

1



 

 

Do you, personally, think drinking in moderation -- that is, one or two drinks a day -- [ROTATED: is good for your health, makes no difference, or is bad for your health]?

 

 

Good for
health

Makes no difference

Bad for
health

No
opinion

         

2001 Jul 19-22

22%

46

27

5



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