Archive for February, 2009

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Happy Friday, everyone. Here at [CR], we’ve been busy following up on our 60 Minutes appearance last weekend – again, if you haven’t seen it, the full segment is here, and there are two bonus clips from the segment available as well. Now that the segment is over, are you ready to dive in and get involved? Join the [CR] staff this coming Wednesday night, March 4th, at 9 PM Eastern for a live chat to give us feedback about the segment and to talk about ways to get involved in our growing movement. We hope you can join us! Here’s the latest [CR] Week in Review to keep you informed until then:

Stories this week:

There’s still plenty of buzz about our appearance on 60 Minutes and our movement swirling in different online communities. Check out the discussions on US News and World Report Online, liberal blog Daily Kos, AOL Finance’s Wallet Pop blog, and Ed Morrissey’s conservative blog Hot Air to join the discussions.

John Andrew Willis’ headline from his latest column in the TCU Daily Skiff sums up the problems with Legal Age 21 perfectly: “Success of Prohibition Only an Illusion.”

Alfred Snider of the Lawrence Debate Union at the University of Vermont posted video of the LDU’s latest “Flashpoint” debate on lowering the drinking age to 18. Check out the video here.

Legal Age 21 creates a “criminal majority” of people under the age of 21, according to William and Mary Flat Hat columnist Ed Innace. He writes, “The fact that our criminal activity is commonplace, sanctioned by the moral norms of our generation, and tolerated by authorities to a large extent, reveals that drinking restrictions, at least in their present form, are not respected as a just law. A law that is perceived as unjust by a large segment of the population has pernicious consequences.”

Scott Hansen of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s student paper The Spectator wrote a preview of an upcoming economics study from UWEC Professor Sanjukta Chaudhuri that will address the connections between collegiate binge drinking and parental alcohol consumption habits. Drew Bowlsby, one of the assistants on the study, said the project will attempt to find out “if people’s parents have acted in such a way we may be able to see that it influences their behavior.”

In other news…

Researchers at the UCSF Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center may have accidentally stumbled upon a drug to help treat alcoholism. Cabergoline, a drug initially developed to treat fertility disorders, may help lessen the cravings for alcohol that people in treatment experience. Science Daily reported that “the researchers found that cabergoline was effective in reducing both craving for alcohol and relapse to drinking. Relapse is a critical issue for alcoholic patients trying to stay abstinent.” Check out the whole article for more.

John Skogerboe of The Day in Connecticut wrote about a strange trend in area grocery stores: retailers are selling ping-pong balls in their beer aisles, capitalizing on the popularity of binge drinking games like beer pong.

Lots to discuss this week – did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments, or tell us in Wednesday night’s chat!

60 Minutes Bonus Video

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

The producers of 60 Minutes posted some exclusive bonus video that was cut from the final version of our segment. Lesley Stahl sat down with a group of college students and talked about the culture of binge drinking on campuses across the country, as well as common drinking games.

If you haven’t seen the full segment already, it’s available here. Check it out!

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, February 20th, 2009

It has been a big week here at [CR] as we’ve been busy gearing up for Sunday’s 60 Minutes appearance. To get you ready for the show, we have a preview video, as well as some details about what you can do to help us get the most out of this opportunity. This morning, the Denver Post offered its own short preview of Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner’s appearance on the segment. For all the other news that will keep you informed right up until 60 Minutes on Sunday night, here’s the latest edition of the [CR] Week in Review:

Stories this week:

In case you missed the article early this week, the Barre Times Argus published details of the push to lower the drinking age in Vermont, including comments from Governor Jim Douglas, who said that he is not opposed to the proposal, given that young adults under the age of 21 can be called on to serve in the military: “Philosophically I share those views,” Douglas said.

John Croman of KARE 11 News interviewed Phyllis Kahn, the bio-physicist and state legislator who recently sponsored a bill to lower the drinking age in Minnesota: “You gradually get people used to drinking; first with their parents, which has got to be the most controlled situation I can think of,” Kahn explained, “And then with friends in a place that has responsibility, under dram shop laws…we’ve held it out as this forbidden pleasure, that at 21 it’s suddenly perfectly alright to do whatever you want,” Kahn remarked, “I’m just saying a more gradual approach to learning how to drink is more appropriate.”

Emerson College, an Amethyst Initiative signatory, announced plans to make significant changes to the school’s alcohol and drug policy this week: the Boston Globe reported that administrators will institute a medical amnesty program, more commonly known as a “Good Samaritan” policy. “The guidelines shield students from disciplinary measures if they are discovered to be intoxicated or drug-impaired while helping friends obtain medical help. The amnesty applies to students who seek assistance for themselves and for others, and for students who receive it.” Emerson Dean of Students Ron Ludman said that although students who drink must do so responsibly, “the college acknowledges there may be times when students may face medical emergencies involving excessive drinking and/or drug use. In these situations students are expected to call for assistance.”

In other news…

Administrators and students at Princeton are following Emerson’s lead and thinking creatively about their own alcohol policies: members of the university’s Alcohol Coalition Committee proposed a social honor code that students would sign to curb binge drinking.

Nikki Garner of the Marblehead Reporter did some digging this week to try and find the answer to a difficult question: “Why do our teens drink?”

Jane Lindholm, host of Vermont Public Radio’s “Vermont Edition,” dealt with a similarly difficult question on one of her shows this week. She spoke with some local experts who attempted to explain Vermont’s problems with underage drinking and drug use despite the fact that the state was recently ranked the healthiest in the nation.

Did we miss anything in this week’s update? Let us know in the comments.

[CR] on 60 Minutes This Sunday!

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

The air date has finally arrived!

This Sunday, February 22nd, [CR] will make its appearance on CBS’ 60 Minutes. Check your local listings for airtimes (7 ET/PT).

The 60 Minutes piece is going to be another round of great exposure and an excellent follow up to the coverage of the Amethyst Initiative. We are extremely excited by the growing momentum in this important debate. To maximize our exposure we need your help to make the most of this amazing opportunity. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Host a get-together to view 60 Minutes and then have a discussion after the show airs. You can treat your party as a time to motivate friends to act or as a time to recruit new volunteers for [CR].
  • Tell us your story: One of the new features on our website allows us to feature personal stories from people whose lives have been affected by binge drinking and the other issues created by the 21 year-old drinking age. What was your experience? Let us know here.
  • Help us support the hard work of [CR] volunteers across the country by making a donation. The cost of outfitting five [CR] volunteers with the tools needed to spread the word about our cause is $25. With your support, we can continue to expand the debate across the country.

We hope you enjoy the 60 Minutes segment. If you miss the segment, keep an eye on this page for the online video. After it airs, let us know what you think!

Liquor Ads Return to Prime Time TV

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

This week, Join Together posted a news summary noting that alcohol advertisements recently appeared on network TV in prime time for the first time in years. Absolut Vodka ran an ad during last Sunday’s Grammy awards, and we’ve seen other companies become more receptive to alcohol advertising in the past few months, including Google, Facebook, and the NBA.

Some advertising experts argue that these developments come as a result of recent economic troubles in the industry – what do you think about the situation? Let us know in the comments.

MD State Senator Drops Beer Pong Law

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Recently, Maryland State Senator George Della Jr. introduced a bill to ban beer pong and other drinking games in Baltimore bars, but the Baltimore Sun reported that Della withdrew the bill this week after receiving “a flurry of angry e-mails” from supporters of the drinking games.

Given the response to Della’s legislation, it’s hard to argue that these games are just a phenomenon on college campuses – they’ve become part of the larger drinking culture.

What do you think? Are you surprised that Della dropped the bill so quickly? Let us know in the comments.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, February 13th, 2009

In case you missed it early this week, check out Paul Clarke’s post on the New York Times group blog “Proof” about teaching moderation and responsibility. The editors at “Proof” discuss a wide range of topics, from addiction issues to cultural attitudes about alcohol, and they often have posts that are worth reading. For other news on binge drinking and our alcohol culture, read the stories from around the country in today’s [CR] Week in Review:

[CR] News:

Following up on last week’s hearing on the drinking age in New Hampshire, The Dartmouth columnist Emily Johnson called for “a national referendum on the drinking age.”

Check out the details of the program on the Amethyst Initiative at Clarkson University – school administrators have arranged for a panel discussion and debate, and have also created a special classroom seminar for students interested in studying the issue.

Students in Green Bay, Wisconsin and Western New York will have opportunities to discuss the drinking age at local events next week: The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will host a panel of school administrators, local physicians, and veterans on Feb. 17th, and Geneseo State University will host its own forum on Feb. 16th.

In other news…

Looking for more evidence that Legal Age 21 isn’t working? Maura Lerner of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported on a study done by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Centers for Disease Control that revealed some alarming statistics about the frequency of binge drinking among active-duty military personnel. According to the study, 43% of active duty personnel admitted to frequent binge drinking in 2005. A 2002 survey reported similar numbers, but this time around, “researchers were surprised at the frequency of binge drinking, especially among those younger than the legal drinking age of 21.” The survey indicates that 44% of those aged 17 to 20 reported binge drinking in the last 30 days, adding up to 5 million episodes of binge drinking by personnel under 21 in that year.

This week, some states enacted tougher legislation to combat drunk driving: a new law in South Carolina increases penalties for convicted drunk drivers and drivers who refuse a breath test, while an ignition interlock bill is being discussed in Wyoming.

Social host laws that penalize adults for providing alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 often cause controversy when they’re introduced. The residents in Iowa City, Iowa considered instituting such a law this week, but they decided that the law was unnecessary. “There are already laws on the books and we can enforce those,” Iowa City council member Mike O’Donnell said. These social host laws are designed to curb dangerous drinking, but they can also prevent parents from introducing their own children to alcohol safely. What do you think about them?

Did we miss anything in this week’s update? Send us a note in the comments.

New efforts to curb binge drinking at U. of Iowa

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Administrators at the University of Iowa took some fresh steps to curb binge drinking this week. The University set aside $50,000 to fund late-night, on-campus activities without alcohol. The money is intended for concerts, adventure programs, and comedy nights that will take the focus away from alcohol-fueled parties. Other large universities have successfully tried similar programs in the past, including a series of events this fall at the University of Maryland.

The school also hired a new consultant who will examine student drinking habits and develop strategies for encouraging safe behavior. The Daily Iowan reported that her approach will be multi-dimensional: “she will hold focus groups with students, parents, faculty, and community members to gauge how to bring the groups together and create an effective communications plan to curb excessive drinking.”

Boston Globe: Binge Drinking in Vermont

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

This past weekend, Brian MacQuarrie of the Boston Globe examined some of the problems that rural Vermont towns have with binge drinking and alcohol abuse by young adults. His piece shows that binge drinking is not just a college problem:

“Although Vermont was named the healthiest state in 2008 by a national health collaborative, the latest data from the US Health and Human Services Department show that Vermont had the highest and second-highest rates of teenage alcohol use and binge drinking, respectively.”

Visit the Globe‘s website to read the rest of the article.

Paul Clarke of NYT’s “Proof”: Why (and How) I Drink

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Paul Clarke of the New York Times‘ group blog “Proof: Alcohol and American Life” posted a great entry last Friday on the need for realistic alcohol education that involves parents and is based in the home.  Clarke wrote:

Knowing that my 6-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son will likely start to experiment with alcohol in – let’s be realistic – about a decade, give or take, I fully realize that every time my wife or I take a drink around them, a message is being sent. There are several directions this can go, and I understand I’ll never have total control over any of them. If completely banishing alcohol from our home would protect them from any of its hazards later in life, it’d be an easy choice, but as my old hard-drinking friends demonstrated, that’s just a bit too simple and naïve to be a realistic option.

Visit Proof and read the whole entry.