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
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
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more