Strong state alcohol policies reduce likelihood of binge drinking

August 14, 2014

People living in states with stronger alcohol policy environments have a substantially lower likelihood of any binge drinking, frequent binge drinking, and high-intensity binge drinking, according to a new study by researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and Boston Medical Center (BMC), published in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Specifically, the study found, each 10 percentage point increase in the strength of a state's score (reflecting more effective and/or better implemented alcohol policies) was associated with an 8 percent reduced likelihood of a person engaging in any binge drinking or binge drinking five or more times in the past 30 days; and a 10 percent reduced likelihood of consuming 10 or more drinks while binge drinking. In determining the results, researchers accounted for a variety of factors associated with , such as age, sex, race, religion, income, geographic region, urban-rural differences and levels of police and alcohol enforcement personnel.

"This study shows that alcohol policies matter—and matter a lot – for reducing a person's risk of binge drinking, which is a leading cause of premature death and disability in the U.S.," said Ziming Xuan, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of community health sciences at BUSPH. "Our findings pertain not only to those who occasionally, but to those who do so frequently, or who consume the largest amounts of alcohol on any given occasion."

Binge drinking is responsible for more than half of the 80,000 alcohol-attributable deaths in the United States each year, and three-quarters of the $224 billion in annual economic costs. It is defined as consuming four or more drinks (for women) and five or more drinks (for men) during a drinking occasion. State binge drinking information for adults aged 18 years of age and older was obtained from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys from 2005-2010.

Researchers analyzed data on 29 alcohol policies that are tracked by the Alcohol Policy Information System and other data sources. These policies were rated by an expert panel, based on their theoretical effectiveness and the degree to which were fully implemented in a particular state and year.

Among all policies assessed, those raising the price of alcohol and those reducing its physical availability were the most protective against binge drinking. Within those two policy categories, higher alcohol taxes and reduced numbers of accounted for approximately half of the effect of all 29 policies combined.

"Unfortunately, most states have not fully utilized available policy tools to reduce binge drinking among their citizens, despite widespread and consistent scientific evidence demonstrating their effectiveness," said the study's senior author, Dr. Timothy Naimi, a physician at BMC and associate professor at BUSPH. "If alcohol policies were a newly discovered gene, pill or vaccine, we'd be investing billions of dollars to bring them to market."

Examples of effective alcohol policies include higher alcohol taxes, having fewer outlets licensed to sell , bans on happy hours and discount drink specials, earlier bar closing times, and laws to reduce impaired driving.

Explore further: Strong state alcohol policies protective against binge drinking

Related Stories

Strong state alcohol policies protective against binge drinking

December 10, 2013
According to a new study, a novel composite measure consisting of 29 alcohol policies demonstrates that a strong alcohol policy environment is a protective factor against binge drinking in the U.S. The study was led by researchers ...

Less family support increases risk of binge drinking, marijuana use among urban youth

August 6, 2014
Urban teens whose parents provide high levels of emotional support are more likely to avoid binge drinking and marijuana use, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Excessive drinking causes one in ten adult deaths, CDC reports

June 26, 2014
Excessive alcohol consumption causes one in 10 deaths among US adults, whether because of accidents or medical conditions that arise from long-term drinking, research showed Thursday.

One in 25 middle school children binge drinking

May 8, 2014
Four percent of Canadians aged 12 to 14 years old had consumed five or more drinks on at least one occasion in the preceding year, according to a new study from the University of Toronto. The study was published this week ...

Binge drinking serious problem for US women

January 8, 2013
Binge drinking is an under-recognized problem for US women, nearly 14 million of whom engage in it about three times a month, downing about six drinks each time, says a study released Tuesday.

Single episode of binge drinking can adversely affect health, study says

May 15, 2014
It only takes one time. That's the message of a new study by scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School on binge drinking. Their research found that a single episode of binge drinking can have significant ...

Recommended for you

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.