Archive for August, 2009

Virginian-Pilot Columnist: 21 Isn’t Working

Monday, August 31st, 2009

In her Sunday column, Kerry Dougherty of the Virginian-Pilot expressed her concern that Legal Age 21 isn’t working for parents or young adults. Dougherty noted that parents are often unaware of the culture of pre-gaming and toxic consumption on college campuses. She wrote,

“We can thank the higher drinking age for this little twist on getting twisted. Seems those who are too young to legally drink in bars chug alcohol in private before stumbling out into the night.  Or they get fake IDs and commit another, more serious, crime.  Drinking on college campuses is a fact of life. It’s time for a sober look at the laws that turned drinking a beer at a fraternity party into a crime.”

Read the whole column here, and check out her follow-up post on the subject that was published this morning.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, August 28th, 2009

As we mentioned earlier in the week, Anheuser-Busch has rolled back its “Fan Cans” promotion near college campuses whose administrators have filed complaints with the company. And now one school who criticized the campaign – the University of Wisconsin – is enacting new measures to try and curb abusive drinking. This week, UW Chancellor Biddy Martin accepted the recommendation of a university committee to end the school’s long-standing sports broadcast sponsorship agreements with Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors. According to Ryan Foley of the Associated Press, the new school policy “prohibits beer ads on its statewide radio network during football, men’s and women’s basketball and hockey broadcasts,” as well as during coaches’ television interviews and in-game programs. What do you think of these new guidelines? Let us know by posting a comment, and check out the rest of this week’s headlines:

Stories this week:

James Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette spoke with a few local officials around Iowa’s universities to get their take on the recent comments by NIAAA founder Dr. Morris Chafetz, who said that Legal Age 21 isn’t working. Sam Hagardine, the Iowa City police chief, told Lynch that he’d consider supporting exceptions to Legal Age 21 for members of the armed forces.

The academic year has just begun on college campuses across the country, and already some schools are struggling to fight instances of toxic drinking. After a recent incident involving one of the sororities at Kansas University, John Drees, a community education specialist at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, told the Lawrence Journal-World that the rate of hospital calls related to alcohol has risen 59% over the course of the past five years.

The editors of the Green Bay Press Gazette in Wisconsin offered their support for a proposal that would modify the state’s drinking laws to allow only 18-20 year olds to consume alcohol in licensed establishments with their parents or legal guardians. Currently, state law allows anyone – including people under 18 – to do so. The editors wrote, “18 offers plenty of time to educate young people about alcohol and responsible behavior.”

In other news…

A lack of judicial consensus has emerged on the issue of South Carolina’s posession and consumption laws, making an appeal even more likely. Check out Thursday’s Rock Hill Herald for an update, which details the conflicting conclusions reached by several local magistrates.

An upcoming study in the October issue of the Journal of American Public Health discovered a “striking correlation” between teenage viewership and the frequency of alcohol advertisements on television. To get a sense of what the study’s proponents and critics are saying, check out the full story at Fox News.

As part of a new effort to cut down on binge drinking by football fans, the NFL will make recommendations to teams around the league about serving sizes for beer, wine, and spirits. The league has also recommended that teams limit tailgating hours in stadium parking lots and restrict the number of alcoholic beverages fans can purchase with each transaction.

Have we missed something with this update? Leave your links in the comments and have a great weekend.

Cedar Rapids Gazette: 21 Causing Harm?

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

This morning, James Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette expanded on comments made earlier this month by NIAAA founder Dr. Morris Chafetz in order to examine the local drinking culture in and around Iowa’s universities. He included a statement from Amethyst Initiative signatory James Phifer of Coe College, who called Legal Age 21 “laden with problems” and emphasized the need for a “thorough review” of the best policies to keep young adults safe. Check out the rest of Lynch’s article at the online edition of the Gazette.

Anheuser-Busch Rolls Back “Fan Cans” Promotion

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

In the [CR] Week in Review last Friday, we mentioned a heated debate that has sprung up on college campuses about Bud Light “Fan Cans,” a new marketing campaign that was intended to coincide with the start of the college sports season. Under pressure from some universities, Anheuser-Busch has now agreed to stop selling these promotional cans near colleges that have filed complaints with the company.

This week, some papers around the country have picked up on the end of the promotion near local schools. Check out the stories in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Des Moines Register, and Wisconsin State Journal for comments from officials at the University of Minnesota, the University of Iowa, and the University of Wisconsin.

Chippewa Falls-Herald on Wisconsin’s Drinking Culture

Monday, August 24th, 2009

If you’re a Wisconsin resident, check out the Chippewa Falls-Herald‘s upcoming week-long series on the local drinking culture and the state’s battle with toxic alcohol consumption. According to reporter Liz Hochstedler, 18% of Chippewa County residents over the age of 18 engage in binge drinking, and the Western region of the state typically has higher percentages of binge and underage drinking than the rest of Wisconsin. Pamela Radcliffe, a local substance abuse prevention expert, said that binge drinking has become the norm: “People are so accustomed to heavy drinking.”

Recently, some lawmakers in Wisconsin have proposed legislation to help make a positive change in the culture of heavy consumption. What more do you think can be done?

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, August 21st, 2009

This week, a major player in the drinking age debate back in the 1980s weighed in with his take on the issue. Dr. Morris Chafetz, the founder of the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and a member of the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving that recommended raising the drinking age to 21, told The Huffington Post that he’s come to realize the failures of Legal Age 21. In his op-ed titled “The 21-Year-Old Drinking Age: I Voted for It; It Doesn’t Work,” Dr. Chafetz wrote,

“I do not believe that any state should be forced to adjust its drinking age. But I do believe that the genius of federalism should be allowed to work its will unimpeded, and from that genius, not only better practices, but also safer environments and more responsible consumption, are likely to emerge.”

Check out the rest of this week’s headlines to stay current on the latest news.

Stories this week:

If you subscribe to the print version of The Economist, you’ll see an article about [CR] and the drinking age debate in an upcoming issue. If you’d like to read the piece online before you receive a hard copy, Alexandra Suich’s profile of the latest developments in the debate is available here.

Wisconsin is one state that has instituted specific exceptions to Legal Age 21: namely, state law currently allows anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol in a bar under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian or with a spouse of legal drinking age. On Wednesday, Stacy Forster of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that local lawmakers are now trying to adjust the law so that the exception applies only to people over the age of 18. The change is significant because the legislators seem to recognize that 18-20 year-olds are still adults in the eyes of the law. What are your thoughts on this proposed change? You can read more coverage of the proposed changes in Wednesday’s edition of the Racine News.

This fall, the University of Kansas will implement changes to its parental notification policy for students who have committed alcohol and drug violations. Christine Metz of the Lawrence Journal-World noted that campus administrators felt the need to implement a new policy after two students, Jason Wren and Dalton Hawkins, passed away in accidents related to heavy drinking this past spring. KU will also require students under 21 to take an alcohol education course, according to Mará Rose Williams of the Kansas City Star.

In other news…

A new advertising campaign by Anheuser-Busch has ignited a controversy on college campuses as students prepare to go back to school in the coming weeks. John Hechinger of the Wall Street Journal reported that the company is now selling “Fan Cans” of Bud Light, which are emblazoned with school colors and are being sold to coincide with the start of the college sports season. A number of universities have threatened legal action against the company, while others have filed formal complaints to prevent Anheuser-Busch from selling cans with school colors near college campuses. Given the fact that new research released this summer showed that alcohol-related deaths among college students rose from 1998 to 2005, college administrators are rightfully concerned about the effects of this new marketing campaign. What’s your take on this campaign? Have you seen any of these new cans near your campus, and do you think they’ll increase instances of dangerous drinking? Let us know in the comments.

Melissa Healy of the Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog reported early this week on a new study in the American Journal of Psychiatry that examines rates of binge drinking in older populations. The numbers from the study aren’t encouraging: 1 in 4 men and 1 in 10 women in the 50-64 age group admitted to binge drinking in the past 30 days. The Times headline, “Binge drinking: It’s not just for kids anymore” illustrates how toxic consumption has become a broad cultural problem that cuts across age groups.

Did we miss something this week? Leave a link in the comments section.

NIAAA Founder in The Huffington Post: 21 Doesn’t Work

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Dr. Morris Chafetz, the founder of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and a member of President Reagan’s Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving, published an op-ed piece in The Huffington Post titled “The 21 Year-Old Drinking Age: I Voted for It; It Doesn’t Work.”  In his op-ed, he offered unequivocal support for a reconsideration of Legal Age 21. Dr. Chafetz initially supported the Presidential Commission’s recommendation for 21 as a result of his desire for consensus, but since the 1980s, he has come to realize that “prohibition does not work. It has never worked. It is not working among 18-20 year-olds now.” He called his vote to support Legal Age 21 “the single most regrettable decision” of his entire professional career.

Make sure and read the whole thing at The Huffington Post. Have you noticed the “ShareThis” tools we have available for each blog post? Try using them to spread the word of this important op-ed to friends and colleagues in your social network!

Greenville News Covers SC Rulings

Monday, August 17th, 2009

The stack of news coverage of the drinking age debate in South Carolina continues to grow: over the weekend, Ron Barnett of the Greenville News interviewed some local officials about the recent court rulings related to the constitutional question of the drinking age. As we’ve noted before, the state’s constitution deals specifically with the sale of alcohol to young adults under 21, but does not mention possession or consumption. According to Barnett, Aiken County Magistrate Rodger Edmonds’ ruling hinges on the specific language of the constitution:

“Had the people of this state intended to authorize the General Assembly to prohibit any other conduct such as the possession, consumption, use or transfer of alcohol by a person 18 years of age or older, this could have been easily accomplished by merely including these words.”

Have you seen any more coverage of the South Carolina rulings? Let us know in the comments section.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, August 14th, 2009

[CR] President and Founder John McCardell was in South Carolina at the end of this week for a few interviews. On Thursday, he participated in a discussion of the recent court rulings in South Carolina with Ben Hoover of WIS-TV, and this morning, he was a guest on The Tyler and Ken Show on WWNU 92.1 FM in Columbia. Watch this space for updates next week as we track down clips of those two appearances. Here are the rest of this week’s headlines from around the country:

Stories this week:

While you’re waiting to hear Dr. McCardell’s take on the situation in South Carolina, you can read a Harbor Island resident’s opinion in Hilton Head’s Island Packet: John McCormick wrote, “My neighbors are sitting at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., waiting for their son, who just was airlifted from Germany after two operations from severe wounds received in Afghanistan. He’s 19 and currently could not have a beer legally. But he was serving overseas and defending your freedom.”

Health administrators at the University of Colorado have noticed a trend among some students who receive treatment for alcohol-related problems: patients who are dealing with heavy alcohol consumption and eating disorders simultaneously are becoming more and more common. Dr. Tamara Pryor of the Eating Disorder Center of Denver told Christy Frantz of the Colorado Daily, “Alcohol has become the No. 1 health concern facing college campuses. Then, of course, there’s been an increased prevalence of eating disorders on college campuses over the last 10 years. We are finding a higher and higher coexisting problem of binge drinking disorders with eating disorders. We see both disorders going hand in hand.”

Did you miss former South Dakota Attorney General Mark Meierhenry’s Sioux Falls Argus Leader op-ed in support of proposed legislation that would alter the drinking age in that state? If so, read the whole thing here – he called Legal Age 21 “bad law.”

In other news…

Shari Roan of the Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog wrote a post about a new study detailing the detrimental effects of binge drinking on cognition and memory for young adults. Check out a summary of the study here.

New York Governor David Paterson is proposing new legislation that would crack down hard on drunk drivers who travel with minors in their vehicles. Casey Seiler has all the details at the Albany Times Union’s “Capitol Confidential” blog.

James Buescher of the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal has the details of a plan put forth by Millersville University administrators in Pennsylvania to use state grants for a large survey project that will give incoming students a more accurate picture of how much their fellow students drink. Students: have you seen similar surveys done on your campus? What were the results?

Leave us a link in the comments if we missed something, and enjoy your weekend!

“Booster Shots” on New Binge Drinking Study

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Shari Roan of the Los Angeles Times‘ “Booster Shots” blog wrote a post yesterday about a new study on binge drinking that sheds more light on the dangers of excessive consumption. According to the study, college students who described themselves as regular heavy drinkers “performed considerably worse on a test measuring attention and memory skills compared with students who didn’t binge.” Alberto Crego, one of the co-authors of the study, warned that even infrequent binge drinking can have detrimental effects on memory and cognition:

“Healthy adolescents and young people who partake in intermittent consumption of large amounts of alcohol — otherwise known as binge drinking — even only once or twice  a week, and who do not display chronic alcohol consumption or alcohol dependence may nonetheless suffer alterations at the electrophysiological level in attentional and working memory processing.”

Given the recent news that binge drinking among college students has not improved (and in some cases has worsened) in the past 25 years, this study offers more evidence that new approaches to the problem of toxic drinking are needed. The study will be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.