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Alcohol Issues Insights

Public health advocates tend to downplay the potential of school-based education programs to reduce underage drinking problems. But two recent reports suggest some programs do work. An evaluation of RAND Corporation

Publishing Info

  • Year 2003
  • Volume 20
  • Issue # 11
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report has already influenced the dialogue between public health advocates, legislators, and the alcohol industry. At two recent events -- a Senate Subcommittee hearing on underage drinking and a Center on Alcohol and Substance Abuse (CASA) panel focused on the future of US alcohol policy -- public health figures argued that the report should be used as a roadmap for US alcohol policy going forward. Advocates at both meetings endorsed the report's familiar propo- sals (excise taxes, availability restrictions and tougher ads regulations), and its new ideas (an industry-funded "independent foundation" to combat underage drinking and national ad campaign targeted to adults). At the same meetings, industry representatives criticized tax proposals, defended alcohol advertising and reminded of the industry's programs to battle illegal use of their products. Yet despite the contentious nature of key NAS proposals, some players on both sides of the issue sought "common ground," and expressed a willingness (and need) to work more closely together towards solutions.

Publishing Info

  • Year 2003
  • Volume 20
  • Issue # 10
A pair of federally-mandated reports, one from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and one from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), plus a pair of national surveys of drinking in the US, put a bright spotlight on underage drinking just as the back-to-school season began. While the FTC report basically praised the industry

Publishing Info

  • Year 2003
  • Volume 20
  • Issue # 9
Beer Institute president Jeff Becker responded negatively to the NAS recommendation: "We’ve always been opposed to linking alcohol with illicit drugs," Becker told Join Together Online (JTO), a news service sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Alcohol is a legal product and it would be inappropriate to link them in any substantive way." Becker noted too that a merger might lessen federal focus on important research into alcohol problems and shift it to drugs. Similarly, Distilled Spirits Council president Peter Cressy said a merger could "seriously undermine the unique research contributions" of NIDA and NIAAA. While 100 mil Americans responsibly consume alcohol beverages, Cressy noted, "it is illegal to manufacture, use, sell and purchase illicit drugs and there is no known safe use of tobacco…. Any common questions can be addressed by collaboration." Interestingly, the ex-director of NIAAA, Dr. Enoch Gordis, agrees with Becker and Cressy. "The attention to alcohol would be downplayed," Gordis told JTO. He also pointed to alcohol’s unique characteristics as a substance that is both a drug and a food, alcohol’s individual physiological effects and its legal status, which to Gordis means "the control of its noxious social effects are in a very different manner…than…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2003
  • Volume 20
  • Issue # 8
"The data do suggest that current drinkers have a reduced [risk] for invasive ovarian cancer, especially women who consume at least two drinks daily. This reduction

Publishing Info

  • Year 2003
  • Volume 20
  • Issue # 7
While many advocates continue to use the phrase to describe 5+ drinks per occasion for males, 4+ for females, yet another study of student drinking found those levels did not provide an accurate measure of intoxication. In this study (based on actual BAC levels), 29% of students found to have BAC levels below .08 "would be classified as heavy episodic [binge] drinkers," using the 4+/5+ drink levels. In fact, "only 51.5% of students" who reported drinking 5+ drinks had a BAC greater than or equal to .08. About 1/3 of the students who met the 5+/4+ standard had a BAC level "greater than or equal to" .10. That means 2/3 of those who binged had BACs below .10. The authors wrote: the 5+/4+ measure lacked specificity, had poor predictive value and yielded a high rate of false positives

Publishing Info

  • Year 2003
  • Volume 20
  • Issue # 6
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