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Alcohol Issues Insights

While the MTF data may suggest a pause in progress in reducing teen drinking in the US, another important measure, impaired driving fatalities on US roads, continues to decline. That figure decreased another 2.5% in 2011, NHTSA reported this week. The dropoff was slightly steeper than the overall decline of 1.9%, but the share of total fatalities that were alcohol-related - defined as crash deaths in accidents involving a driver with BAC of .08 or more - stayed basically the same at 31%. Alcohol-impaired fatalities declined for each vehicle type except for motorcycles in 2011. Long-term trends show remarkable progress in reducing total crash deaths per mile driven. That measure shows a decrease from nearly 7 deaths per million miles driven in the US in 1950 to 1.1 in 2012. Ref 2

Publishing Info

  • Year 2012
  • Volume 29
  • Issue # 12
Policymakers in the UK, and elsewhere, tend to view the alcohol industry as a monolithic group. The shared commitments announced at the October ICAP meeting suggest that large global producers are on the same page, at least regarding certain policy matters. But interviews with the major players from all sides of the UK business found some areas of disconnect and suggested policymakers would be well-served to understand different player's motivations to better shape policy debates. That's the conclusion of researchers from University of York and the London School of Hygiene and Topical Medicine. "It is widely believed that corporate actors exert substantial influence on the making of public health policy," they noted. To date, "there have been very few studies of the role of industry actors in the alcohol policy process," so researchers decided to interview alcohol reps from all sides of industry to get a sense of how key companies and trade associations function together. For this analysis, how alcohol industry "actors" acted with and against each other was limited "to the issue of pricing and promotions policy and related issues" and doesn't venture into differences between them on other issues. A total of 35 interviews were held between…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2012
  • Volume 29
  • Issue # 11
Once again, the annual Gallup Poll suggests that neither vast marketing investments nor ongoing policy tweaks have had much effect on Americans' overall drinking habits. About 2/3 of American adults (Gallup continues to ask those age 18+, presumably to maintain sample consistency) say they "have occasion to use alcoholic beverages." Using the 66% figure found in 2012, that has varied by more than the poll's 4-point margin of error only 4 times since 1985 and is approximately the same as it was in 1974, 1966, and 1945. At the same time, 22% of drinkers said they "sometimes drank too much." That was a notable spike from 17% in 2011, but very close to the average every other year since the mid-1990s, and again virtually the same as in 1978. (Oddly the figure had jumped up to 30-35% in the late 80s thru 1990.) Other constants: men are more likely to drink and drink more than women, white adults are more likely to drink than other races/ethnicities, beer remains more popular than wine or spirits and about 1/3 of drinkers say they had no drinks in the week prior to the survey. Gallup describes the rest, 2/3 of drinkers, 44% of…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2012
  • Volume 29
  • Issue # 8
While the annual Monitoring the Future Surveys continue to show significant, steady declines in drinking among junior- and senior high school students in the US, trends among college students and other young adults age 19-28 are much more varied. For example, the table below shows that while drinking during the previous month declined modestly among college students from 2001 to 2011, it increased slightly among all young adults age 19-28. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, since the vast, vast majority of those in the latter sample are legal age. 30-Day Use 2001 2006 2011 % Chg 01-11* College 67.0 65.4 63.5 -5.2 YA (19-28) 67.0 68.7 68.8 2.7 Been Drunk (30 days) College 44.7 47.6 39.9 -10.7 YA 36.8 42.1 39.5 7.3 Flavored Alc Bevs (30 days) College 26.2 29.5 12.6 YA 24.9 23.8 -4.4 5+Drinks in a Row (2 Wks) College 40.9 40.2 36.1 -11.7 YA 35.9 37.6 36.5 1.7 Daily Drinking College 4.7 4.8 3.8 -19.1 YA 4.4 5.4 5.2 18.2 Daily Pot Smoking College 4.5 4.3 4.7 4.4 YA 5.0 5.0 6.1 22.0 *For flavored alc bevs, trend is for 2006-2011 Similarly, rates of daily drinking, so-called "binge" drinking and getting drunk (at least once…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2012
  • Volume 29
  • Issue # 7
The Ledermann theory that average consumption rates help determine problem-drinking rates, and that alcohol policy should aim to reduce average consumption, still has its adherents among public health officials here and abroad. But the data continue to belie this theory, suggesting that drinking cultures and drinking patterns should be the focus of prevention. Three recent developments support a focus on culture vs. average consumption: recent drinking data from the UK, findings from a recent Finnish survey and a study of drinking habits in four Euro cities. As we noted in the last update, a recent survey of drinking habits in Great Britain shows significant decreases in average consumption, even while reports of increasing alcohol problems, especially among youth, continue to raise alarm, draw attention and will result in some new alcohol policy measures (see below). The table below shows that average consumption in Great Britain dropped from 14.3 units per week in 2005 to 11.5 units, a nearly 20% decline. Average Weekly Alcohol Consumption (Units) Age 2005 2010 % Change 16-24 16.9 11.1 -34.3 25-44 15.1 12.2 -19.2 45-64 16.0 13.1 -18.1 65+ 8.7 8.1 -6.9 Total 14.3 11.5 -19.6 Significantly, given the concern about youth drinking there, average consumption…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2012
  • Volume 29
  • Issue # 3
The virtual elimination of alcohol energy drinks from store shelves did not end state attorney generals’ interest in alcohol policy. State AGs will continue their efforts to “curb youth access” to alcohol. That was one of several takeaways from Washington State AG and current president of the National Association of AGs Rob McKenna’s talk to the Center for Alcohol Policy symposium recently. While not detailing future actions or recommending specific policies, he made several “concerns” very clear. They include: • High-alcohol, single-serve flavored malt beverages in large containers, dubbed “super-sized alcopops” by other folks on CAP agenda (see September 9 Update). McKenna asked “what is the message sent?” by having “cheap packages” of these products in “every gas station and c-store.” Will Washington take specific action on high-alcohol single-serves? “It’s not clear,” McKenna said, though there’s some interest along those lines. Legislation like that is difficult to obtain, he suggested, and perhaps “more time needs to pass” before legislators see the need for action. He has “encouraged” the liquor control board to “step up.” • “Unprecedented levels of youth exposure to alcohol marketing.” Evidence suggests marketing exposure “speeds up onset” of youth drinking and increases consumption of those who have…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2011
  • Volume 28
  • Issue # 9