-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- News coverage of
alcohol's role in violent crime and fatal accidents may persuade
the public to give stronger support to alcohol-control laws, new
It is estimated that drinking is involved in nearly one-third of
deaths from accidents and violent crime. Most news reports of such
cases, however, make no mention of alcohol, according to the
authors of the study, published in the March issue of the
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
"People have some awareness of the social cost that alcohol can have," study author Michael D. Slater, of Ohio State University, in Columbus, said in a journal news release. "But only a small fraction of news stories on violent crime and nonmotor-vehicle accidents acknowledge the contributing role of alcohol."
This means that many people don't realize how often alcohol
plays a role in violence and accidents that don't occur on the
roads. This lack of awareness may dampen public support for
alcohol-control laws such as strict enforcement of underage
drinking rules or bans on serving alcohol to drunk customers,
In the study, Slater and his colleagues surveyed 789 adults and
found that they were more likely to support alcohol-control laws
after they read media stories about violent crime, vehicle crashes
and other accidents involving alcohol.
"I think this buttresses the idea that media coverage does matter," Slater said. "Alcohol, as a public-health issue, is not as front and center as it might be if there were more news coverage."
In areas that already have alcohol-control laws, public support
is still important because local resources are needed to enforce
those laws, he noted. Local authorities should mention any role of
alcohol when giving details about crimes and accidents to the
media, Slater added.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers an
alcohol and public health.
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