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EDITORIAL: Time has come for law change

Wisconsin's tradition of encouraging alcohol consumption needs to change. Lives are being ruined, futures are being altered and families are being torn apart due to the destructive nature of excessive alcohol use.

Earlier this week, Health First Wisconsin called for a change in our state's law that allows parents to purchase alcohol at bars and restaurants for their underage children. The long-standing law was ridiculed in recent press reports.

Even though state law has established a 21-year-old drinking age, families use this current loophole to unwittingly indoctrinate their children in the ongoing culture of substance abuse.

Sure, the frequency of parents actually buying drinks for their kids is small. But when it comes to sending a clear message about the dangers of excessive alcohol use, Wisconsin strikes out, in part, because of this terrible law.

We would agree with Health First Wisconsin that it's time for Wisconsin to make 21 the consistent drinking age in all licensed bars, restaurants and other establishments.

According to the organization, research shows that alcohol use before age 21 hampers brain development and can lead to future alcohol disorders. Studies also indicate that the younger someone starts drinking alcohol, the more likely it is he or she will develop an alcohol problem.

Research also indicates that Wisconsin is the worst binge-drinking state in the nation, thanks to the drinking culture created by our ancestors and passed on from generation to generation.

It's time for Wisconsin to amend its laws and send the message that the state will not tolerate underage drinking or alcohol misuse. By taking such a step, Wisconsin might start making inroads in changing the pattern of heavy drinking found in our communities.