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Alcohol Issues Insights

With the US government preparing the 2016 traffic fatality statistics for release soon, the Center for Alcohol Policy (CAP) hosted veteran researcher Jim Fell and NHTSA’s Chief Safety Scientist Joseph Kolly to explore “The Future of Impaired Driving Countermeasures” at the CAP conference last week. Kolly reminded that the dramatic progress in reducing annual alcohol-impaired crash deaths from over 21,000 in 1982 to under 10,000 in 2011 has stalled over the last 5 years or so. And while the number of alcohol-impaired crash deaths hasn’t changed in recent years, the percentage of all drivers involved in fatal crashes with a BAC of .08 or higher hasn’t changed in two decades, stuck at approximately 20%, though down from over 1/3 in 1982. Can technology bring back a sharp reduction, or possibly eliminate, alcohol-impaired driving deaths? MADD and other safety groups seem to believe so. NHTSA, along with private partners in the auto industry, hope the DADSS system will ultimately prevent any impaired person from starting or operating a vehicle. They seek a quick, accurate, reliable, low-cost solution that can “instantly” tell whether a driver is impaired, Kolly pointed out. Possibilities include a breath- or touch-based detection system, or, ultimately, automated vehicles…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2017
  • Volume 34
  • Issue # 29
Ironically, but predictably, while the science supporting benefits of moderate alcohol consumption continues to build (see our last newsletter), so does the skepticism about that science and whether/how to share that information with the public. NBC News published a very positive piece in early August: “7 Science-Backed Ways Beer Is Good for Your Health.” From the outset, NBC stressed moderation and defined it with the Dietary Guidelines, 1 drink per day for women, up to 2 drinks/day for men. Among the benefits NBC shared: nutritional contribution (protein, B vitamins, phosphorus, folate and niacin); reduced risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease; improved cognitive function; reduced inflammation; stronger bones; longer life; cleaner teeth. Other than the last (new to us) these benefits have significant scientific support and will be familiar to readers of AII, again bolstered by very recent studies. NBC included references to over a half dozen specific studies/journal articles in its review. That wasn’t enough for the watchdogs at HealthNewsReview.org, a group of medical professionals and journalists who aim to “improve the public dialogue” about health care and assist consumers to “critically analyze” health claims made in the media, marketing etc. Within days of the NBC report, the site published “3…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2017
  • Volume 34
  • Issue # 28
The recently formed Drinkers’ Voice consumer group to give drinkers a say in the debate on moderate drinking in the UK (see September AII), has already waded into policy waters. The group “branded as ‘dead in the water’” the UK’s drinking guidelines. Recall, the UK government reduced the guidelines last year from 21 units per week to 14 units per week for all drinkers, sparking pushback from industry members and others. “People just don’t want to listen to the government when it comes to alcohol advice anymore,” Drinkers’ Voice director Byron Davies told The Spirits Business. The guidelines have little scientific evidence to support them, he added, and are based on “biased opinion and distorted statistics.” What’s more, “they ignore the positive health benefits of moderate drinking and prescribe a ‘one size fits all’ approach” to millions of drinkers. “That is totally inappropriate.” Meanwhile, a handful of industry trade associations, representing beer, wine and spirits, “have decided not to recommend to their members that they should display the weekly drinking guidelines on their products,” Drinkers’ Voice claims.

Publishing Info

  • Year 2017
  • Volume 34
  • Issue # 32
With the US government preparing the 2016 traffic fatality statistics for release soon, the Center for Alcohol Policy (CAP) hosted veteran researcher Jim Fell and NHTSA’s Chief Safety Scientist Joseph Kolly to explore “The Future of Impaired Driving Countermeasures” at the CAP conference last week.  Kolly reminded that the dramatic progress in reducing annual alcohol-impaired crash deaths from over 21,000 in 1982 to under 10,000 in 2011 has stalled over the last 5 years or so.  And while the number of alcohol-impaired crash deaths hasn’t changed in recent years, the percentage of all drivers involved in fatal crashes with a BAC of .08 or higher hasn’t changed in two decades, stuck at approximately 20%, though down from over 1/3 in 1982. Can technology bring back a sharp reduction, or possibly eliminate, alcohol-impaired driving deaths?  MADD and other safety groups seem to believe so.  NHTSA, along with private partners in the auto industry, hope the DADSS system will ultimately prevent any impaired person from starting or operating a vehicle.  They seek a quick, accurate, reliable, low-cost solution that can “instantly” tell whether a driver is impaired, Kolly pointed out.  Possibilities include a breath- or touch-based detection system, or, ultimately, automated vehicles…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2017
  • Volume 34
  • Issue # 29
Ironically, but predictably, while the science supporting benefits of moderate alcohol consumption continues to build (see our last newsletter), so does the skepticism about that science and whether/how to share that information with the public.  NBC News published a very positive piece in early August: “7 Science-Backed Ways Beer Is Good for Your Health.”  From the outset, NBC stressed moderation and defined it with the Dietary Guidelines, 1 drink per day for women, up to 2 drinks/day for men.   Among the benefits NBC shared: nutritional contribution (protein, B vitamins, phosphorus, folate and niacin); reduced risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease; improved cognitive function; reduced inflammation; stronger bones; longer life; cleaner teeth.  Other than the last (new to us) these benefits have significant scientific support and will be familiar to readers of AII, again bolstered by very recent studies. NBC included references to over a half dozen specific studies/journal articles in its review.  That wasn’t enough for the watchdogs at HealthNewsReview.org, a group of medical professionals and journalists who aim to “improve the public dialogue” about health care and assist consumers to “critically analyze” health claims made in the media, marketing etc.  Within days of the NBC report, the site published “3…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2017
  • Volume 34
  • Issue # 28
The debate over reducing legal BAC driving limits to .05 in North America continues.  In Canada, a federal justice Minister recommended a nationwide .05 limit earlier this year (.08 is the limit in Canada, but most provinces already levy penalties for drivers over .05).  Several Canadian newspapers picked up the debate earlier this week, quoting Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s supporting arguments and several industry-based criticisms of the proposal.  She defended a federal limit of .05 as a way to “better respond to the dangers posed by impaired drivers,” by sending a “stronger message” to all drivers.  Recent scientific data, she claims, suggests that earlier research had “underestimated the fatal crash risk” of driving at lower BAC levels.  She also pointed to the experience in Ireland where lower BAC levels resulted in significant declines in fatal crashes and criminal charges.  (Interestingly, MADD Canada supports a lower BAC level, in contrast to the public position of MADD in the US.) Meanwhile, a spokesman for Quebec restaurateurs feared a “significant drop in total revenues” that would result from the policy change, as “celebrations, parties, all that will be done at home as people change their behavior.  It’s easy to talk about taking a taxi…

Publishing Info

  • Year 2017
  • Volume 34
  • Issue # 26
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2018 Spring Conference Image

The 2018 Beer Insights Spring Conference will be held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Chicago on Wednesday evening, 5/16 -  and all day Thursday, 5/17