In the Doghouse

Colorado Lawmaker Proposes to Let Parents Expose their Kids to Alcohol

GregBrophyJanuary 16, 2013

As the ink dries on marijuana legalization in Colorado, State Senator Greg Brophy (R - Wray) launched into the new legislative session last week with a proposal to allow parents to purchase alcohol for their underage children anywhere where alcohol can legally be consumed. His reasoning? Brophy took his daughter out for her 20th birthday and was miffed that he couldn’t legally buy her a drink. On his Facebook wall, he ranted: "Why on earth would you want to deny responsible parents the chance to expose their own kids to the effects of this product while with their parents?"

Brophy's bill is misguided and dangerous. Brophy wants to give parents the chance to expose their kids to the effects of a product that is responsible for, among other effects, the deaths of more than 5,000 youth under the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) in the U.S. each year. Studies have repeatedly shown that alcohol can cause permanent impairment in brain development and functioning in youth younger than 21 years old. Consuming alcohol prior to age 21 greatly increases one's chance of developing alcohol dependency later in life.
Conversely, an MLDA of 21 results in fewer traffic fatalities and other deaths, injuries, and other alcohol-related harm among underage drinkers. Contrary to Brophy’s suggestion that kids should learn to drink with their parents before leaving home with “unfettered” access to alcohol, students attending colleges and universities where the MLDA is strongly enforced are less likely to drink excessively. The MLDA is one of the most well-researched areas of public health and alcohol policy, and the findings are consistent: the 21 drinking age saves lives and reduces alcohol-related harm.
Brophy's proposal also would allow for parents of underage military personnel to buy their children drinks after they return home from service. In other words, he'd like young servicemen and women who come home alive to access a product that is likely to hurt them. There are better ways to say thank you to young veterans for putting their lives on the line.