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Alcohol Issues Insights

INSIGHTS continues to closely follow the annual Monitoring the Future Surveys of young adults, which track both drinking rates and attitudes about moderate (and heavy) drinking. Just-released data from the 2005 survey gives pause for both optimism and concern. On the positive side, the percentage of both 19-22 yr-olds and 27-30 yr-olds who "disapprove" of moderate drinking (1-2 drinks "nearly every day") fell sharply in the 2005 data, and to the lowest levels for both groups since the surveys started asking the question. While 2/3 of 27-30 yr-olds disapproved of moderate drinking in 2004, that figure dropped to 60.5% in 2005, and was down from over 73% in 1990. The disapproval rate among 19-22 yr-olds declined by 4 points in 2005 and was down from 79.7% in 1990 to 64.6% last yr. Interestingly, a slightly higher percentage of 23-26 yr olds disapproved of moderate drinking in 2005 than a year earlier, but the long-term trend among that age group also shows more acceptance of moderate drinking. Similarly, long-term trends in the percentage of young adults who believe moderate drinking poses a "great risk" to the drinker have also declined, though there were slight increases in the perception of such risk…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2006
  • Volume 23
  • Issue # 9
After projecting an increase alcohol-related traffic deaths for 2005 back in April (see May INSIGHTS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revised both the 2004 and 2005 figures. As a result, NHTSA now reports a 0.2% decline in alcohol-related fatalities in 2005. That's when a driver or non-occupant has a BAC level of 0.01 or higher. Deaths in crashes where there was a BAC of 0.08 or higher declined by 0.4%. But there was a 0.9% increase in the number of deaths in crashes involving lower BACs. Importantly, the average BAC in fatal crashes remains .16, double the legal limit. The positive spin: the number of alcohol-related fatalities in 2005 (16,885) was the lowest since 1999. The not-so-positive spin: the number in 2005 was still higher than it was in 1999. Other signs that progress in reducing drunk driving has stalled: 1) the number of injuries in alcohol-related crashes increased by an estimated 2.4% in 2005; 2) the percentage of all fatalities that are alcohol related remained stuck at 39%. The 2005 data was skewed in part by a large increase in the number of motorcycle fatalities: +13% overall and +10% in alcohol-related motorcycle fatalities.

Publishing Info

  • Year 2006
  • Volume 23
  • Issue # 8
Public health advocates claim there's been little recent progress in reducing teen drinking, but the biennial federal "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance" report suggest sharper declines in many measures from 1999-2005 than 1995-1999. The table below shows significant across-the-board declines since 1995 and 1999 in rates of current drinking (at least 1once/month), episodic heavy drinking (5+ at least once/month) and either drinking and driving or riding with a drinking driver. Note too: most of these rates were lower in 2005 than 2003, further suggesting steady progress. Long-term progress remains impressive. Whether you look at gender, race or school year, there has been a double-digit drop in the percentage of teens drinking, drinking heavily and drinking and driving. Current drinking among high school students declined little from 1995-1999, but the rate dropped 13.4% from 1999 to the 2005. The dropoff was particularly sharp among young men. Female teens are still less likely to drink than male teens, but the gap narrowed from 3.3 points in 1995 to just 1 point in 2005. Current drinking also declined sharply among black youth and episodic heavy drinking plummeted among Hispanic youth: the latter rate dropped by 1/3 1995-2005. The percentage of teens who drove while…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2006
  • Volume 23
  • Issue # 6
The 4th European Beer & Health Symposium, held in Brussels May 4, provided an impressive primer on the scientific research linking moderate consumption, specifically beer consumption, to a broad array of health benefits. Chaired by Prof. Jonathan Powell from the UK's Medical Research Council in Cambridge, scientists from Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Denmark, the Netherlands and elsewhere presented papers. Here are some highlights from the abstracts, some not even couched in standard scientific language: "In sum, apparently some alcohol can make the brain work better. Different scientific papers have found that those who even drink only two glasses of beer (or one glass of wine) have significantly sharper thought processes than teetotalers." Barley and hops contain compounds that "may be involved in chemo-prevention of cancer, bone protection or cognitive function improvement." Silicon, "found at high levels in beer

Publishing Info

  • Year 2006
  • Volume 23
  • Issue # 5
DC Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg made it five for five by dismissing -- with prejudice -- the original attempted class action filed in November 2003 against alcohol beverage suppliers and the Beer Institute for allegedly targeting underage youth with their marketing activities. Like his predecessors in California, Colorado, Ohio and Wisconsin, Judge Weisberg gave no credence to any of the Plaintiff's arguments. Specifically, he agreed with the industry members and dismissed the case because: 1) the plaintiff-parent "failed to establish that he has stand-ing" to sue either on his own behalf or as the "representative" of other parents; 2) "he has failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted." As elsewhere, the judge ruled that the Plaintiff failed to even allege any specific injury, failed to identify a single illegal purchase, "or that he or any child of his is the source of even one dime of Defendant's allegedly ill-gotten gains.'' What's more, the Plaintiff never singled out a single ad seen by any underage drinker "much less that he or she was influenced by Defendants' marketing techniques to purchase or consume" any product. And again like several colleagues, the judge was notably dismissive in his…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2006
  • Volume 23
  • Issue # 4
So far, state and federal judges clearly agree with alcohol beverage suppliers that the attempted class action suits are

Publishing Info

  • Year 2006
  • Volume 23
  • Issue # 3