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Should the legal age for buying alcohol be raised to 21 years?

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In reply: We disagree with the points raised by Lindo and Siminski. All systematic reviews show harm associated with lowering the purchasing age and reduction in harm from increasing it. We stand by our decision to emphasise findings published in peer-reviewed journals. They cite their non-peer-reviewed New South Wales study to claim that reaching the legal age of 18 years for purchasing alcohol did not increase serious motor vehicle accident risk. However, their comparison to novice drivers aged 17 years is flawed, as inexperienced drivers in their first year are at their highest lifetime risk of vehicle accidents. To support their criticisms of New Zealand research, they cite one non-peer-reviewed report. Our conclusions are based on two independent peer-reviewed studies, supported by additional studies,1 including recent evidence of long-term negative effects of the New Zealand law change2 not confined to traffic injury.3

They claim that we ignore illicit drug substitution studies showing that up to 2% of adolescents in the United States use cannabis and then change to alcohol at 21 years of age, when they can legally purchase it. However, these effects are inconsistent across models,4 and some studies report no effect.5 In contrast, the epidemiological…