-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Dec. 10, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Strong state alcohol
control policies make a difference in efforts to help prevent binge
drinking, a new study finds.
Binge drinking -- generally defined as having more than four to
five alcoholic drinks in a two-hour period -- is responsible for
more than half of the 80,000 alcohol-related deaths in the United
States each year.
"If alcohol policies were a newly discovered gene, pill or vaccine, we'd be investing billions of dollars to bring them to market," study senior author Dr. Tim Naimi, an associate professor of medicine at Boston University Schools of Medicine and attending physician at Boston Medical Center (BMC), said in a BMC news release.
Naimi and his colleagues gave scores to states based on their
implementation of 29 alcohol control policies. States with higher
policy scores were one-fourth as likely as those with lower scores
to have binge drinking rates in the top 25 percent of states.
This was true even after the researchers accounted for a variety
of factors associated with alcohol consumption, such as age, sex,
race, income, geographic region, urban-rural differences, and
levels of police and alcohol enforcement personnel.
Alcohol policy scores varied by as much as threefold between
states, the investigators found. And nearly half of the states had
less than 50 percent of the maximum score in any particular year
from 2000 to 2010. In addition, the study authors noted, binge
drinking rates were 33 percent higher in states in the bottom
quarter than those in the top quarter of policy scores.
The study is published in the current issue of the
American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
"Unfortunately, most states have not taken advantage of these policies to help drinkers consume responsibly, and to protect innocent citizens from the devastating secondhand effects and economic costs from excessive drinking," Naimi said.
"The bottom line is that this study adds an important dimension to a large body of research demonstrating that alcohol policies matter -- and matter a great deal -- for reducing and preventing the fundamental building block of alcohol-related problems," he concluded.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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