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Alcohol Issues Insights

New estimates of the prevalence of alcohol abuse/ dependence in the US once again cast doubt on the simplistic belief that rates of alcohol problems are necessarily linked to rates of per capita consumption. Acting under that principle, many public health officials advocate "environmental measures" like higher taxes aimed at reducing overall consumption, rather than targeting efforts to reduce specific problem drinking. In fact, consumption and abuse rates moved in opposite directions from 1992 to 2002 in the US. Per capita consumption of absolute alcohol declined by about 4% during this period, from 1.76 gallons to 1.69 gallons, based on shipments of beer, wine and spirits. Yet, the just-released National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) found prevalence of alcohol abuse and dependence combined among US adults rose from 7.4% 1991-92 to 8.5% over the decade. An increase in the prevalence of abuse more than offset the slight drop in the rate of dependence. As a result of these prevalence rates, the number of adult Americans who abused alcohol or were alcohol-dependent (the more serious condition, sometimes called "alcoholism") rose by 3.8 million to 17.6 million in the decade, NIAAA estimates. That increase may reflect attitude changes more…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2004
  • Volume 21
  • Issue # 6
A pair of new studies using the same measure of self-reported well-being concluded that drinkers consistently report better health than abstainers. A US study of 5,669 adults found that "light to moderate consumption and more frequent drinking were associated with better general health and physical functioning for both" men and women. What

Publishing Info

  • Year 2004
  • Volume 21
  • Issue # 5
AB and Miller responded to the multi-billion dollar class action suit filed against them in California the same way Coors and others responded to similar suits. They removed the case to federal court from the state court where the plaintiffs Lynne and Reed Goodwin had filed it. AB and Miller also "vehemently" denied charges they target underage drinkers and argued the suit does not deserve to be treated as a class action. Two recent events brought the handful of proposed class action suits against the industry back into the news. The first was another suit filed against Coors (see page 2). Though not a class action, the suit similarly charges that Coors marketing targets youth. The second was the release of yet another study from CAMY. This one focused on the increase in media spending for alcohol beverages in 2002, and the organization

Publishing Info

  • Year 2004
  • Volume 21
  • Issue # 4
While many state officials and industry members across tiers have embraced server training as an important and legitimate tool to reduce alcohol abuse, liquor liability attorneys recently raised some thorny questions about these popular programs. When it comes to server training, bars are "damned if they do, damned if they don

Publishing Info

  • Year 2004
  • Volume 21
  • Issue # 3
At a 2 ½-hour House subcommittee hearing on "What Works" to prevent underage drinking February 11, a dozen members of Congress participated at least part of the time. The subcommittee heard from panel of five: Francine Katz (AB), Wendy Hamilton (MADD), Susan Molinari (Century Council); Jacqueline Hackett (SADD) and Robert Newton (Betty Ford Center). A few of the panelists and Representatives criticized industry advertising, but the tone was less antagonistic than at the September, 2003 Senate hearing, a source told INSIGHTS. Also, a few Representatives praised industry programs, including local-level efforts sponsored by wholesalers. In their testimony, Hamilton and Newton focused heavily on and fully endorsed the NAS recommendations for a national ad campaign aimed at parents, higher excise taxes, etc. Hamilton also detailed efforts by the "alcohol industry" to "criticize and discredit the [NAS] findings." Katz focused on AB’s efforts to educate parents and young people, and work with retailers to prevent underage drinking. She also explained: "Advertising is not what causes youth to drink. In fact, since 1982, AB’s advertising expenditures have tripled, while teen drinking declined 32% and teen drunk driving fatalities have declined 61%." Both Katz and Molinari pointed to Roper polls which show that parents…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2004
  • Volume 21
  • Issue # 2
12/14/2003

Abstainers

An early-November Gallup poll of 1007 US adults found that 38% of occasional drinkers and 35% of weekly drinkers believe themselves to be in excellent physical health. But only 19% of non-drinkers rated their physical health excellent. That was even lower than the percentage of smokers (25%) and overweight adults (23%) who rated their physical health so high. What's more, 46% of occasional drinkers and 45% of weekly drinkers rated their mental health excellent, compared to just 38% of non-drinkers. As Gallup weighed these findings, it concluded that while "being overweight is significantly related to poor physical health, even more so than smoking, drinking alcohol...is associated with good health." Do healthy people drink, or does drinking make them healthy? "It is difficult to tease out the causality here," Gallup reported. "It may be that drinking itself helps alleviate anxiety and worry (which alcohol may do in the short term) or that people without positive mental health are less likely to drink alcohol for other reasons." Interestingly, results from a July Gallup poll run counter to these findings. Gallup wrote: "Despite studies in recent years pointing to some health benefits associated with moderate drinking, the message about alcohol's potential health benefits…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2003
  • Volume 20
  • Issue # 12
Page 10 of 11