The legal drinking age in a lot of countries is 18, but in the US it’s at 21 years.
Why are we thinking about this topic at Cognac Expert?
Because Cognac in the US is targeted to a much younger, urban group of people than in other countries. Just look at the campaigns of Hennessy and their music events (Artistry, Hennessy Black events) or Birkedal Hartmann‘s Conjure with rapper Ludacris, or Rémy Martin’s new spokesman T.I. who of course also appeals to younger audiences. That’s exactly what the cognac industry is thinking about: How to reach younger drinkers, and getting away from the image of a rather “old” after-dinner drink.
What’s more, the cognac players are promoting their spirits as mixable products – in Europe we already had certain problems with subjects such as The Alcohol Flatrate or Flatrate drinking at parties, also influenced by the trend of alcopops, ready-mixed mixdrinks. Alcopop is a term that stands for certain flavoured alcoholic drinks like malt beverages with juices, wine and fruit juices or distilled alcohol with fruit ingredients such as lemonade. Smirnoff Ice or Bacardi Breezer are examples.
Those products are targeted at younger consumers – so this is a serious matter. Because of traffic accidents, social and phsyical problems etc. that may develope. Please see a list of pros and cons regarding lowering legal drinking age at the bottom of this article.
If you’re young: You gotta’ have it!
Come on, we all know it: If there is a new, cool drinkable product.. and it’s fun, and you are a teenager, you gotta’ have it. As the cognac industry already targets younger audiences in the US – such as Hennessy Black, Rémy Martin and Courvoisier – one could easily imagine a cognac-alcopop for younger consumers. The mixdrinks and cocktails such as BULL (Hennessy Black + Red Bull + Coke) are about to become more and more popular, and the eaux-de-vie companies keep on riding on that wave.
When will they launch the first cognac alcopop?
Henn Ice… Remy X.. ? There are already some comparable drinks such as Carnivo XO, or the announced Conjure Ice Tea, in a way also So Yang, a mix of cognac and tea, of André Petit, even when this one is targeting zen-loving, health-watching women. One example would also be the mixdrink Kush Cognac – a drink that uses marihuana ingredients. None of those really suceeded in gaining a wide popularity, yet.
The cognac alcopop would be the logic next steps for Cognac distributors: They already promote the drink as mixable, as something you drink in the club. So if the legal drinking age would be lowered to 18 in the US, who would benefit from this? Basically it would directly be a benefit for the Cognac companies.
But if kids are legally aloud to buy alcoholic beverages, like cognac or whiskey in the US, especially in urban zones, this could really lead to a great financial opportunity for Hennessy & Co. Those companies could then really think about ready-mixed alcopops and promote their cocktails as ready-mixed products, but of course this could probably lead to a highly dangerous situation for the development of younger members of society. Abuse would be something you could count on.
Again, if you look at the European situation, let’s take England for instance: They have a huge drug and alcohol problem already and try to control the situation by closing pubs earlier – so a sort of power drinking developed, where you pump in as much as possible in a certain time period. Another example: In Germany we saw major ‘flatrate drinking’ abuse, kids even died. Flatrate drinking is a term for an evening (or “open bar” in France) where you pay once and drink as much as you can. So it’s not “all you can eat”, but all you can drink. Alcopops also have (or had) a huge impact and influence to those flat rate drinking nights. It’s considered as a major threat and danger for the youth.
There is a lot of underage alcohol abuse going on
There are good reasons to limit drinking age, and that it’s not lowered to 18 like in France or Germany. Still, the minimum legal drinking ages around the world are more or less set at 18, like in Europe. There are even countries where there is no MLDA at all, or set at 16 years.
Let’s have a look at general Pros and Cons why the legal drinking age should be lowered or not (USA):
Pro: Reasons for lowering the drinking age
- Turning 18 means lots of things like getting married, signing contracts, or joining the army which includes taking, or being prosecuted as an adult. So normally an adult should also be responsible for his alcohol consumption.
- It might be better to teach responsibly while being young.
- The USA increased the Minimum Legeal Drinking Age (MLDA) to 21 years, which did not have any effects on traffic acidents. In fact, compared to the 1980s (legal drinking act of 1984) the rate of accidents involving alcohol decreased less than in Europe where lots of countries’ legal drinking ages are at 18 or lower than 21 years. So the MLDA at 21 is not really an efficient rule for reducing traffic fatalities.
- If one lowers the drinking age, it won’t be less of a taboo.
- Also, the drinking age of 21 sends a message which leads to feeling mature when drinking alcohol.
- The US alcohol prohibition from 1920 to 1933 did not work, it showed that a strict regulation leads to uncontrolable situations.Enforcing an MLDA of 21 is expensive and inefficient. Drinking is still a major problem among teens. It would be more effective to spend money on educating youth about alcohol than to spend it on enforcement of drinking laws for 18 to 20 year olds.
- Drinking alcohol in moderation is good for health, even for 18 to 20 year old teens.
- In sime states the drinking age was lowered to 18 (Massachussets, Michigan and Maine). There was an increase of alcohol related car crashes in the range of 18 to 20 year old drivers – also, putting the MLDA back to 21 has descreased fatal traffic accindents in the age group of 18 to 20 by 13% and saved about 22 thousand lives (1975 to 2002).
- Allowing teens to consume alcohol can make them more interested in soft drugs, harder drugs, illegal activities and similar.
- Academic performance is highly influenced by alcohol: Teens that drink alcohol make less efforts in highschool and university.
- The earlier a person starts drinking alcohol, the higher the probability that the person becomes alcoholic later on – with all its consequences of physical and psychological damage.
Please drink responsibly.
Source: drinkingage.procon.org, en.wikipedia.org
Pics: www.caan.adf.org.au, Hennessy