A new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine suggests that states with stronger alcohol control policies tend to have lower rates of binge drinking. The Boston University School of Medicine analysis is the first to relate individual state laws with the likelihood and levels of excessive drinking in adults.
Binge drinking is defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as consuming five or more alcoholic beverages for men and four drinks for women within a two-hour period. This type of alcohol abuse is responsible for more than half of the 80,000 drinking-related deaths that occur across the nation each year.
The Boston University researchers evaluated states based on their implementation of 29 alcohol control policies that they deemed important. Examples of these rules include taxes on alcohol sales and restrictions on when the beverages can be sold. States with higher policy scores were only one-fourth as likely to have binge drinking rates in the top 25 percent of jurisdictions.
"If alcohol policies were a newly discovered gene, pill or vaccine, we'd be investing billions of dollars to bring them to market," said Dr. Tim Naimi, the study's lead investigator, in a press release. "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."
He added that his findings add to a large body of research that suggests laws and policies are an important factor in reducing alcohol-related problems.