Anheuser-Busch, which makes Bud Light beer, has initiated a new marketing campaign in which it sells cans of Bud Light that bear the colors of a local college or university. Administrators are outraged, arguing that this marketing approach will encourage underage drinking.
This concern is misguided. For starters, sales of the new cans will mainly substitute for sales of regular Bud Light, or for other beer brands. There is no evidence that students will drink more beer just because it comes in cans that are colored with Harvard Crimson, Yale Blue, or Princeton Orange.
The concern is also misplaced because it does not address the real issue related to underage drinking, namely, the minimum drinking ago of 21. This policy is impossible to enforce, so it breeds disrespect for the law.
Worse, a minimum drinking age of 21 probably contributes to binge drinking on college campuses, since students face pressure to drink to excess when they do get access to acohol. A less puritanical policy toward alcohol, that treated it as a normal part of adulthood, would undercut this pressure.