Archive for July, 2010

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, July 30th, 2010

A new study by Toben Nelson of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health made some splashy headlines this week – he believes colleges and universities aren’t doing enough to combat alcohol abuse among students. His findings are based on colleges’ implementation rates of a 2002 set of NIAAA recommendations to reduce underage drinking. According to Inside Higher Ed, some experts are skeptical of Nelson’s findings, including Jim Turner of the National Social Norms Institute at the University of Virginia. Turner noted that the NIAAA recommendations, written 8 years ago, were based on older data that does not take into account the tremendous success of the social norms approach to alcohol education, which can affect “70- to 80-percent reductions of drunk driving and binge drinking” on campuses that use the social norms approach. Let us know what you think in the comments, and then check out the rest of this week’s headlines.

Stories this week:

After one month on the books, community leaders believe the early returns on Iowa City’s 21-only bar ordinance “look promising,” according to Lee Hermiston’s report for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Simple assault arrests, drunk driving charges, and cases of disorderly conduct are all down, but Police Sgt. Denise Brotherton cautioned residents not to put too much stock in these early numbers: “Just a month of stats is often too early to make a permanent decision about the effectiveness (of the ordinance).”

On Monday, the editors of the Washington Post criticized the Maryland state government for so far refusing to implement a dime-a-drink tax on alcohol to prevent looming deficits in the state’s budget. Some Post readers, including industry representatives, responded by making a case against such tax hikes. Maryland residents: where do you stand on this issue?

Sticking with DC-area items, WUSA-TV warned viewers about the binge drinking crisis among teens and college students by interviewing Ryan Smith of Virginia Tech’s Center for Applied Behavior Systems. Smith, who studies alcohol consumption among young adults, told WUSA about the hundreds of breathalyzer tests, instances of property damage, and cases of public intoxication that occur in Blacksburg every weekend. The Fairfax County Police Department will soon host their second community forum on binge drinking.

In other news…

Stephen Dubner of the New York Times “Freaknonomics” blog flagged a National Bureau of Economic Research study on rates of binge drinking and sexual activity among high school students. The study’s author, Jeffrey DeSimone, wrote, “binge drinking significantly increases participation in sex, promiscuity, and the failure to use birth control, albeit by amounts considerably smaller than implied by merely conditioning on exogenous factors.”

After hearing about New York’s tough new ignition interlock law that takes effect August 15, Jerry DeMarco of the Cliffview Pilot asked readers, “Should N.J. have ignition locks for DWI convicts?

Send us a news tip if we overlooked something in this week’s update.

New York Mandatory Interlock Law Takes Effect Aug. 15

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Over the weekend, several newspapers in New York updated readers on some significant anti-drunk driving legislation that passed earlier in the year. According to multiple reports, 311 people have been arrested so far under the new Child Passenger Protection Act, which makes it a felony to drive drunk with a passenger under 16 in the vehicle.

The final provision of the Child Passenger Protection Act, also known as Leandra’s Law, will take effect on August 15: courts will order convicted drunk drivers to install ignition interlocks in their cars, regardless of whether a child under 16 was in the vehicle at the time. New York will join a group of 9 other states which require mandatory interlocks for all first-time offenders.

Check out the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ press release for more information.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

This week has been another scorcher here in Washington, and we’re looking forward to some cooler weather in the fall when [CR] representatives will be hitting the road to give presentations and participate in debates on college campuses. If you have an idea for an event you’d like to plan, please e-mail us, then catch up on the latest headlines.

Stories this week:

Make sure you read Michael Waxman’s “Maine Voices” commentary for the Portland Press Herald on the challenges posed by Legal Age 21, which was published on Monday.

Guam raised its drinking age to 21 this month, and we’ve already started to see some familiar headlines, including this one from the Pacific Daily News: “Enforcing New Law a Challenge.”

Toben Nelson of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health surveyed 351 colleges across the country and concluded that these schools are not doing enough to prevent binge drinking among students. Check out Tim Post’s report for Minnesota Public Radio to find out why.

In other news…

A new study on alcohol consumption trends across all age groups from 1992-2002 reveals that the percentage of people who drink is trending upward. Although the average number of drinks consumed per month remained steady over that period, the study did highlight a jump in the number of people who engaged in binge drinking at least once per month. Check out Denise Mann’s breakdown of the statistics for Health.com here. The study will be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

The Board of Trustees at Clemson University has asked the school to develop a more comprehensive plan to reduce toxic drinking among students, including the possibility of moving the Greek rush period to the spring term. Trustee Bill Amick told the Anderson Independent Mail, “The status quo will not be accepted. We can’t get a life back.”

Anita Kumar penned an in-depth report on Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s effort to privatize liquor sales in his state. McDonnell plans to roll out his plan for privatization in early August. Get the full story in last Sunday’s edition of the Washington Post.

Express-Times Invites Reader Comments on Legal Age 21

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Yesterday, the editors of the Express-Times in Lehigh Valley, PA solicited reader comments on the merits of Legal Age 21 and the possibility of lowering the drinking age. They sought comment after publishing a story about a local prison official who stands accused of providing alcohol to underage drinkers.

Please visit the Express-Times‘ Lehigh Valley Live site to join in the debate –  submit your comments and let the other readers know what you think.

Portland Press Herald Op-Ed: 21 Doesn’t Work

Monday, July 19th, 2010

This morning, the Portland Press Herald published a “Maine Voices” commentary by Michael Waxman, a Yarmouth resident, parent of four, and trial lawyer. In his op-ed, Waxman said he believes Legal Age 21 is “dangerous” and he called on his fellow parents to advocate for a new approach to alcohol education:

“If we can’t do better by our kids than to put our heads in the sand and forget about and deny our own adolescent experiences when it comes to alcohol, then we are dropping the ball in a big way and accepting avoidable and tragic alcohol related deaths of our loved ones.”

Check out the rest of his commentary at the Press Herald site and leave your feedback in the comments.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Are you looking for a way to beat the heat this summer while showing your support for the drinking age debate? We have some great summertime apparel choices in our [CR] Store, including hats and lightweight t-shirts, as well as water bottles. Check out what’s in stock and then catch up on these headlines:

Stories this week:

Philip Cook, ITT/Sanford Professor of Public Policy at Duke University, recently gave a presentation on the pros and cons of Legal Age 21 at the University’s College Student Drinking and Drug Use conference. Watch it here.

KTVB-TV and the University of Idaho Argonaut both have follow-up stories on the alcohol poisoning death of UI Senior Benjamin Harris earlier this week. When asked if the University could be doing more to prevent these types of incidents, Bruce Pitman, UI’s Dean of Students, said, “Certainly there may be another thing or two that we might be able to do, but I think we need to step back from this a bit and try to understand how we might be able to impact behavior that takes place off campus.”

Law enforcement officials are often forced to stretch their thin resources to contain the consequences of toxic drinking by young adults, and this week, one police official implored local residents to stop engaging in such behavior. After five separate incidents involving dangerously intoxicated young men who required medical attention, La Crosse, Wisconsin Police Chief Ed Kondracki said, “I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that serious injuries and death can result when binge drinking reaches the irresponsible and dangerous levels reached this past weekend. The police department does not have the resources to find and rescue drunks in such large numbers as was experienced this weekend.”

In other news…

Researchers at Loyola University Health System in Chicago have found that young adults who engage in binge drinking could be at much greater risk for developing osteoporosis and bone fractures later in life. Lead researcher John Callaci wrote, “Lifestyle-related damage done to the skeleton during young adulthood may have repercussions lasting decades.” The new study is published in the July-August issue of the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.

Penn State University President Graham Spanier has recommended to the school’s Board of Trustees that senior week, the typical celebration period between the conclusion of final exams and commencement ceremonies, be eliminated starting in 2012. Spanier made the recommendation in an attempt to cut down on the dangerous drinking that occurs when students have “nothing productive to do except frequent bars.” Megan Rogers, a staff writer for the PSU Collegian, noted that students don’t think the elimination of senior week will have an impact on heavy drinking and celebrations.

David DeWitte of KCRG-TV in Iowa filed a report on the economic impact of Iowa City’s 21-only bar ordinance, which some residents say is hurting local businesses. What do you think?

Send us a news tip in the comments if we missed something in this week’s update.

21st Birthday Celebration Turns Deadly at U. Of Idaho

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Last night, KLEW-TV in Lewiston, Idaho reported on the apparent alcohol poisoning death of University of Idado senior Benjamin Harris. Harris was celebrating his 21st birthday at the Sigma Nu fraternity on Monday night, where police said he drank “15 shots of liquor within a two and a half hour period.” Officers found Harris unconscious at the fraternity and took him to a local medical center where he was pronounced dead.

The University of Idado has experienced a string of alcohol-related injuries and deaths recently, and Harris’ death is the latest incident. In April of 2009, 23 year-old Daniel Miller passed away after a night of heavy drinking, and in January of this year, a 27 year-old UI student and a 21 year-old former student died after combining large amounts of alcohol with prescription drugs.

“Binge drinking, we all know the dangers involved with this, but it seems to be something that people strive for and celebrate. Celebrating a birthday shouldn’t have a result like this,” said David Duke, the Assistant Police Chief in Moscow.

KLEW has a video report on the story here.

Sen. Schumer Calls for Tighter Regulation of Alcoholic Energy Drinks

Monday, July 12th, 2010

On Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer called for tighter regulations on the producers of alcoholic energy drinks such as Joose and Four Loko, arguing that “the manufacturers are deliberately trying to get young people to drink.” According to Kristin Cole of CBS New York, he believes the drinks’ high alcohol content and fruity flavors appeal too strongly to underage drinkers:

“The alcoholic energy drinks have twice the amount of alcohol of beers, at 12 percent by volume, something they proudly proclaim at the top of the can. The cans are brightly colored and come in flavors like fruit punch, and that’s why many want them marketed better – or taken off the market completely.”

Last year, the FDA commissioned studies to determine the safety of these beverages, but the agency has yet to reach any conclusions.

What do you think? Are these drinks too easily marketed to underage drinkers? Let us know in the comments.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Thoughts of school may be far from your mind in the middle of July, but we’re busy making plans for campus presentations in late August and into the rest of the fall semester. If you’re interested in bringing a [CR] representative to your area to speak about the drinking age debate, please e-mail us. Then check out the rest of these headlines.

Stories this week:

The Gordie Foundation announced today that it will partner with the Center for Alcohol and Substance Education at the University of Virginia to create the Gordie Center for Alcohol and Substance Education (Gordie CASE).  UVA will become the new home of the foundation’s education programs. Check out the full announcement for more details.

Every five years, the USDA and the Health and Human Services Administration review their dietary guidelines for Americans, and this year’s Advisory Committee report contains a section on revising the guidelines for alcohol consumption, including new weekly rather than daily consumption guidelines. Join Together has more details on these proposed changes. You can submit comments to the USDA to send them your feedback – the deadline for public comment is July 15.

Administrators at Stanford University are so pleased with the results of the school’s implementation of AlcoholEdu that they will continue funding the program for another four years. Survey results showed that “49 percent of respondents said the material better prepared them to deal with alcohol at Stanford.” However, binge drinking is still a major concern on campus – Ralph Castro, the manager of the University’s substance abuse prevention program, said that 56% of students choose hard liquor when drinking. Castro suggested that these numbers indicate that pre-gaming is a common problem, and he also noted that “all of Stanford’s emergency room trips for alcohol poisoning involve hard liquor.”

In other news…

After a unanimous vote last week, acting Gov. Mike Cruz signed Bill 389 into law, which raises Guam’s drinking age to 21.  In response to the new law, Andersen Air Force base followed suit and raised its drinking age to 21 as well. The change comes without any additional licensing or education provisions, so we’ll be watching closely to see if problems of secretive binge drinking develop as they have among 18-20 year-olds here.

Earlier this week, Adam Marszal and Russell Taylor were sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading no contest to hazing charges related to the alcohol poisoning death of Cal Poly first-year Carson Starkey in December 2008. The San Luis Obispo Tribune profiled the incident and noted that after Starkey’s death, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed the Carson Starkey Alcohol Awareness and Education Act into law, which added curricula on alcohol poisoning and binge drinking to Texas public schools.

Leave us a tip in the comments if we missed something in this week’s update.

New SAMHSA Study: Underage Drinking, Hospitalizations Soar on July 4th Weekend

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

In late May, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services administration released new data showing an increase in underage drinking and alcohol-related hospitalizations over the Memorial Day weekend. Now, they’ve published a study showing similar increases over the July 4th holiday weekend:

“The study reveals that daily underage drinking-related visits to hospital emergency departments are 87 percent higher during the Fourth of July weekend than they are on an average day in July. The report estimates that on an average day in July, there are 502 hospital emergency department visits involving underage alcohol use. For the three day Fourth of July weekend however, the number of daily hospital emergency department visits jumps to 938.”

Check out the full press release from SAMHSA to read comments from administrator Pamela Hyde and leave your feedback in the comments.