Alcohol's Effects On The Brain and Body
Alcohol is still the deadliest drug in the United States, and it’s not even close
Alabama’s alcohol consumption pales in comparison to other states
Adolescents Who Behave Aggressively Are More Likely to Abuse Alcohol
SEC teams get Jell-O molds, but Baptist leader concerned they'll be used for drinking games
COALITION OPPOSING MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION LAUNCHES NATIONAL CAMPAIGN TODAY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
Obama's LGBT Executive Order Endangers Religious Liberty
By Dr. Mark Creech
There is a great restaurant near my office that I visit for dinner at least five days a week. The staff has become like family to me. When they’re not so busy, the servers will stop to talk for a little while, which is always nice. One young server, Johnny, seems to have taken an interest in my work and often parks himself next to my stool at the grill. He’s clean-cut, very well-mannered, and good at making conversation. He’s truly a likeable guy.
Recently, during a time when Johnny wasn’t serving, I noticed there was a celebration going on in one of the back dining areas. Johnny soon came around the corner from that gathering to say he was enjoying himself with his family and a few friends in honor of his birthday. Johnny was now 21 years old. With rapturous joy, he hailed his rite of passage into adulthood by proudly holding up a six pack of brews he had been given as a present.
Of course, I didn’t say anything negative about the alcohol. I didn’t want to spoil Johnny’s moment. I wish he wouldn’t drink. There certainly wouldn’t be anything lost if he didn’t. Still, there is one matter regarding Johnny’s choice for booze that was comforting – he had to wait until he was 21 to legally drink it.
Last Thursday (July 17th), marked the 30th anniversary of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. The law (MLDA – Minimal Legal Drinking Age), which requires an individual must be at least 21 years of age before purchasing and imbibing alcohol, unquestionably has saved tens of thousands of lives.
After the repeal of prohibition, states were given the responsibility for determining the drinking age and most states established it at 21 years. Then came the Vietnam era, when the national voting age was dropped to 18 years, and consequentially the argument was erroneously made if someone was old enough to vote and go to war, they ought to also be old enough to drink. So 29 states dropped the MLDA to around 18 and the results were catastrophic. There were dramatic increases in alcohol-related traffic fatalities among youth from 18-20.
These shocking statistics resulted in many states reversing course and putting the limit back up to 21. The value of such action, however, was diminished by the fact that many young people were going across state lines to drink where the limit was still lower. Thus, it was apparent that the nation needed a national minimum legal drinking age. Congress adopted one and then incentivized the states to adopt the same by threatening to take away some of their federal highway funds, if they didn’t. By 1987 all 50 states had adopted the current MLDA of 21.
The law has had its critics. “The Amethyst Initiative,” in which a small number of college and university chancellors and presidents signed on to, argued the law drives drinking underground and therefore contributes to issues of binge drinking by youth. Institutions of higher learning should be allowed to teach students to drink responsibly, they contended.
There have been echoes of these same arguments more recently. Dwight Health, an Anthropology professor at Brown University, only a few days ago told ABC News that the younger people are when they start to drink the better off they will be. He cites places like France where children are encouraged to have wine during family meals. Brown says such approaches to alcohol consumption help eliminate the taboo of drinking, thereby making it less alluring. 
Unfortunately, the law’s detractors get a lot of press. It’s sensational journalism. But the jury is already in with 30 years of monitoring and research that clearly demonstrates the 21 MLDA is remarkably successful. Moreover, Time Magazine reported in 2008 that France is “grappling with wide-spread binge-drinking among its youth. Worse still, fully half of 17-year-olds reported having been drunk at least once during the previous month.”  So much for the argument that developing a so-called culture of responsibility towards alcohol will actually end the abuses of it by youth. In fact, prevalence rates for drunkenness among young people in the United States are less compared to those of European ages.
What actually works is a form of prohibition. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not calling for a return to the kind of prohibition before 1933 in the United States. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that all forms of restrictive alcohol measures in state and federal law are an acknowledgement that alcohol is not an ordinary commodity. It poses a significant risk to the public’s health and prohibitive determinations are necessary. This is especially true for those in their formative years.
In Case Closed: Research Evidence on the Positive Public Health Impact of the Age 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age in the United States, Dr. William DeJong of the Boston University School of Public Health, and Jason Blanchette, of the Boston University School of Medicine, extensively present the peer-reviewed research clearly demonstrating the achievements of the 21 minimum age drinking regulation. They contend:
“Recent research on the age 21 MLDA has reinforced the position that the current law has served the nation well by reducing alcohol-related traffic crashes and alcohol consumption among youths while also protecting drinkers from long-term negative outcomes they might experience in adulthood, including alcohol and other drug dependence, adverse birth outcomes, and suicide and homicide. The evidence is clear that, absent other policy changes and improved enforcement of the nation’s alcohol laws, lowering the legal drinking age would lead to a substantial increase in injuries, deaths, and other negative health-related consequences.” 
Despite its opposition, the 21 MLDA still receives strong public support. A 2007 Gallup Poll revealed that 77% of adults 18 and older would oppose lowering the current MLDA, while only 22% would support it. 
Naturally, the MLDA doesn’t end all drinking by youth, no more than traffic laws end all speeding. The law is meant as a deterrent and never ends all law breaking. We still have serious problems with young people and alcohol. But alcohol policy like the MLDA does reduce the problems associated with alcohol and the nation’s youth. And it does so because it makes alcohol less readily accessible – a principle that is fundamental to all effective alcohol policies that preserve and protect.
Johnny may still choose to drink, but after 30 years of study it’s clear, at least he’s a little safer because he had to legally wait until he was 21.
 "On the Anniversary of the Drinking Age Act: Should the Drinking Age Be Lowered in the U.S.?" WFTS. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2014.
 Time Magazine, July 17, 2008, Quoted in Brumbelow, David R. Ancient Wine and the Bible: The Case for Abstinence. Carrollton, GA: Free Church, 2011. Pg. 186.
 108, and Journal Of Studies On Alcohol And Drugs / Supplement No. 17, 2014. Case Closed: Research Evidence on the Positive Public Health Impact of the Age 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age in the United States (n.d.): n. pag. Web.
Alcohol provides no heart health benefit: new multi-center study published in The BMJ and co-led by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Why Marijuana Should Remain Illegal
Reasons to oppose marijuana are here given in the form of Questions and Answers.
- Marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol, and alcohol is legal. Alcohol is America’s number one drug problem. Why should we now unleash another harmful drug on America? When marijuana has been legalized, it has led to an increase in crime and societal problems. Alcohol and marijuana have been classified as “gateway drugs,” drugs that often lead to harder drugs. Isn’t one legal gateway drug enough?
- We have not won the war against drugs, including marijuana. So why not legalize it? We haven’t won the war against murder either. Should we therefore legalize murder? Should we just tax murder? Of course not. Passing a law against a harmful practice does not eliminate the practice. But it does limit it, stigmatize it, and punish the abusers.
- Medical marijuana should be legalized. The argument for medical marijuana usually is just a way of opening the door to the recreational use of marijuana. When a state legalizes smoking marijuana for pain, you can expect the next push to be for legalizing recreational marijuana. Christian abstainers, however, do accept the use of drugs for medicinal necessity, rather than recreational purposes. For some the pain-relieving aspects of marijuana loses appeal when you take away the idea of smoking a joint and getting high. Marijuana is already available in drug form that does not get you high, yet can be used for pain or other medical conditions. Barrett Duke of the ERLC explains, “Marijuana’s pain-relieving ingredient has been available by prescription for years. A person can purchase Marinol – right now – with a doctor’s prescription. The plain fact of the matter is that there are better and safer drugs [for pain]” (bpnews.net; 8-6-2012).
- People have a right to smoke marijuana if they choose. Our rights must sometimes end when a practice or substance becomes too harmful to ourselves and others. I know there is a fine line that sometimes has to be drawn, but dangerous drugs that harm the user and innocent others should be severely limited. Isn’t it strange that just as society is turning against smoking tobacco, it is now moving toward sanctioning smoking marijuana?
- We can get taxes from the legal sales of marijuana. We could also get taxes from legalizing other harmful practices. Invariably, when we allow and tax a practice that is harmful to society, we end up paying more to control it and deal with its consequences, than we receive in taxes. Government would do better to get their taxes up front and honestly, not by legalizing destructive behavior.
- You can’t legislate morality. Yes you can. Our laws against murder and theft legislate morality. The question is where you draw the line. Some things need to be criminalized, limited, and stigmatized.
- Penalties for marijuana should change. Perhaps this is true. Barrett Duke has suggested, “A system of increasing fines, penalties and requirements, like substance-abuse counseling, can be developed. Penalties even could include the loss of one’s driver’s license. Jail could be a last resort for habitual offenders” (-BP).
- Marijuana is not that bad. Rather, when marijuana has been legalized, it has magnified an existing problem. Marijuana has multiple toxic chemicals and gives a higher risk for cancer, psychosis, strokes, respiratory damage and heart attack. It causes impaired memory, difficulty concentrating, impairs driving and reaction time. It lowers the I.Q. of teenage smokers. Acceptance of another mind-altering recreational drug always changes things for the worse.
Biblical Reasons to Oppose Marijuana.
- Scripture describes in detail the dangerous effects of alcoholic wine and says not to even look at it (Proverbs 23:29-35). It’s not much of a leap to take the same low view of other dangerous drugs.
- Scripture directly says wine is a mocker (Proverbs 20:1).
- Scripture commands us to be sober (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8; 1 Peter 5:8; etc.).
- Kings are commanded not to drink wine lest they pervert justice (Proverbs 31:4-5). Believers are called kings and priests (Revelation 1:6; 5:10) and neither should we take drugs that would cause us to do things we’d never do in our right minds.
- A Christian is to honor God with his mind and body (Matthew 22:37; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Both are adversely affected by alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs.
- Drinking hurts your Christian influence and leads others astray (1 Corinthians 8:9; 10:23).
Teens Drawn to Heavily Advertised Alcohol Brands: Study
The Argument Against a Lottery… In the Words of Liberals
- “With odds stacked sky high against actually winning a jackpot, lottery players lose an average of 47 cents on the dollar for each ticket. With such low payouts, tickets act as an implicit tax of 38 percent.”
- “One study found that a reason for this is that “lotteries set off a vicious cycle that not only exploits low-income individuals’ desires to escape poverty but also directly prevents them from improving upon their financial situations.” The loss in income of buying tickets that provide no reward is harder to bear on a slim budget.”
- “The revenues from lottery tickets act as a regressive tax because states use them to fund many public services, such as education. Lotteries netted 11 states more revenue than their corporate income tax in in 2009. But states don’t fare well either in the long run. While states that have lotteries increased per-capita spending on education at first, after some time they ended up decreasing overall spending, while states without them increased investment.”
- “One study found that “non-lottery states spend, on average, 10 percent more of their budgets on education than lottery states.” In fact, lottery revenues may not end up increasing funds and could actually increase budget imbalances. There are only so many tickets that a state’s population can buy, making it a short or medium term fix but not a long term source of revenue.”
- “State lotteries amount to a hidden tax on the poor. They eat up about 9 percent of take-home incomes from households making less than $13,000 a year. They siphon $50 billion a year away from local businesses—besides stores where they’re sold. And they are encouraged by state-sponsored ads suggesting everyone can win, win, win!”
- “What many people don’t know about lotteries is that they prey on those who can least afford it; most people never win anything big; and 11 states raise more money from lotteries than from corporate taxes. Beyond the moral, mental health or religious debates over gambling, lotteries are another example of how society preys on the poor and the working-class.”
- “They redistribute money up the economic ladder.” Most people buy tickets and win little or nothing. This is taking more money from the poor, working and lower middle-classes than from those most able to pay taxes. These billions also are diverted away from local businesses—with the exception of the stores where tickets are sold. “This is exacty [sic] the opposite of the kind of economic stimulus a depressed economy needs,” wrote
3.3 Million Deaths Due to Alcohol Consumption in 2012
Powdered Alcohol: Potential Damage for Underaged
The federal government admitted Monday that its recent approval of Palcohol—a powdered alcohol which turns water into vodka and rum—was actually done in “error.”
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau granted Palcohol “label approval” on April 8 only to withdraw it 13 days later. “TTB did approve labels for Palcohol,” it said in a statement. “Those label approvals were issued in error and have since been surrendered.”
Palcohol’s parent company Lipsmark said in a statement that “there seemed to be a discrepancy on our fill level, how much powder is in the bag” and that the approvals were surrendered on the afternoon of April 21. “This doesn’t mean that Palcohol isn’t approved,” it said. “It just means that these labels aren’t approved. We will re-submit labels.” Palcohol will have to resubmit labels for approval to the bureau, which is part of the Department of Treasury.
To read more click here.
Parents Influence Teens’ Drinking Decisions: Survey
Believe it or not, drinking isn't the only way to consume alcohol: You can inhale it, too.
March 19, 2014
It's a method some parents found out about the hard way, when their kids overdosed on "smoked" booze, but it's also a growing trend in high-end bars and restaurants.
To the average drinker, it probably sounds pretty weird, but fans of e-cigarettes and oxygen bars will understand why this is an increasingly popular idea. Vapors contain few calories, carry virtually no impurities, and are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. That means you get drunk more quickly and more efficiently, though the speed of absorption does raise some legitimate health concerns. (We’ll get to those a little later.)
The thing is, while these facts are pretty well-known, few care enough to concoct an elaborate heating vessel and carry it around with them just to get drunk a little more efficiently.
Buying Liquor Could Get Way Easier
- Eliminating the mandatory “Sunday closing” law in Minnesota. Twelve states currently prohibit Sunday sales;
- A move to put grocery store sales of some liquor on the Oregon ballot in November;
- Allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores in Tennessee. Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C., now allow food stores to sell wine;
- Various proposals in Utah to expand or privatize liquor sales, which are among the most restrictive in the country;
- A proposal to eliminate excise taxes on beer, wine and liquor in Connecticut. Neighboring Rhode Island cut the tax on wine and spirits last year and advocates say Connecticut is losing business across the border.
A Matter of Convenience
Energy drinks, alcohol don't mix, study finds
ABC Board joins in "Under Age, Under Arrest" to keep alcohol away from kids (Opinion from ALCAP - The Birmingham News, Friday, December 8, 2013)
'Drunkorexia' is the newest fad for college students
A new trend among college students trying to avoid the “freshman 15” could land them in the hospital. (Source: KKCO/CNN)A new trend among college students trying to avoid the “freshman 15” could land them in the hospital. (Source: KKCO/CNN)
Under Age, Under Arrest: ABC Board warns McAdory students about dangers of drinking
By Carol Robinson | firstname.lastname@example.org
November 19, 2013 at 3:44 PM
How the Brain Gets Addicted to Gambling
Attorney General Luther Strange Announces Decisive Court Victory In Gambling Case
Wal-Mart Sells Coors About at Cost to Be Largest Beer Seller
How Often Do Gamblers Really Win?
By MARK MAREMONT and ALEXANDRA BERZON
The casino billboards lining America's roadways tantalize with the lure of riches. "Easy Street. It's Only a Play Away," screams one in Arizona. "$7.1 Million Every Day. We're a Payout Machine," reads another.
But how often do gamblers really win? What are the chances that a gambler will win on a single day or over a longer period? Don't bother to ask the casinos. Although they gather vast quantities of data about their customers for marketing purposes, including win and loss tallies for many regulars, casinos keep such information a closely-guarded secret.
Now, thanks to an unprecedented trove of public data detailing the behavior of thousands of Internet gamblers over a two-year period, The Wall Street Journal can provide some answers.
Three-star admiral fired as No. 2 nuclear commander
WASHINGTON – The Navy says a three-star admiral was notified Wednesday that he has been relieved of duty as second-in-command at the military organization that oversees all U.S. nuclear forces. He is under investigation in a gambling matter.
The Navy's top spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said that Vice Adm. Tim Giardina will drop in rank to two-star admiral as a consequence of being removed from his position at U.S. Strategic Command.
Giardina is being reassigned to the Navy staff pending the outcome of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service probe of allegations that he used counterfeit gambling chips at a casino in Iowa, not far from his base in eastern Nebraska.
The removal of such a high-ranking commander of nuclear forces is extremely rare in the U.S. military.
More People Using E-Cigarettes to Smoke Marijuana
A growing number of people are smoking marijuana out of e-cigarettes, NBC New York reports. Marijuana in liquid and wax forms used in e-cigarettes and vapor pens does not create an odor. Because the devices don’t produce a flame, a person smoking marijuana in an e-cigarette can take a puff and then quickly put it in a pocket.
Local law enforcement officials and drug counselors are concerned about the trend, particularly in minors. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a survey that showed use of e-cigarettes among middle and high schools students doubled from 2011 to 2012. The CDC found 10 percent of high school students had tried an e-cigarette last year, compared with 5 percent the previous year. According to the survey, 1.8 million middle and high school students said they tried e-cigarettes last year.
Detective Lt. Kevin Smith, who heads the Narcotics Unit for the Nassau County Police Department in New York, said an officer arresting someone on a drug charge who has an e-cigarette is now directed to test the device for illegal drugs.
New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal introduced a bill last year which made it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors. New York Governor Cuomo signed the bill in September 2012. “Once you try electronic cigarettes, you can become hooked to them, move on to cigarettes and then move on to other drugs,” Rosenthal said.
College Students’ Drinking Habits Formed in First Six Weeks of College: Expert
College freshmen’s drinking habits are often formed during the first six weeks of school, according to an expert from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
In the first six weeks, first-semester freshmen often start drinking or increase the amount they drink, says Aaron White, Program Director of NIAAA’s College and Underage Drinking Prevention Research. They may drink because of student expectations and social pressures, he notes. “Students show up with all these expectations about the role that alcohol is going to play in their lives in college, and they just get a little bit nuts with the freedom,” he said.
In many cases, college freshmen are living away from their parents for the first time, and they often have easier access to alcohol, even though drinking is illegal for those under 21. However, many new college students already have experience with alcohol by the time they arrive, White said. “Colleges more or less inherit the problem than create it,” he said. “But the college environment can nurture (it), certainly.”
Students’ drinking often tapers off throughout the rest of a student’s college years, the Associated Press reports. “You show up (to college) and you start doing what you think you’re supposed to be doing, and then find out that there’s no way to sustain that without flunking out,” White observed.
About four out of five college students drink alcohol, according to NIAAA. About half of college students who drink also consume alcohol through binge drinking. An estimated 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.
Some Teens, Young Adults Abusing Alcohol by "Vodka Eyeballing"
Liquor Privatization: The Fallout
The unintended (and intended) consequences of privatizing Washington state liquor sales.
Published Aug 21, 2012, 10:59am
By Erica C. Barnett
Be careful what you wish for. On November 8, 2011, after a $22 million campaign financed primarily by Costco, Washington residents voted overwhelmingly to privatize the state’s liquor sales and distribution system. On June 1, after a series of thwarted lawsuits by privatization opponents including the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention, hundreds of new, privately run stores opened their doors across the state.
Proponents of privatized liquor sales argued that the switch would generate hundreds of millions in new tax revenue, promote competition and lower prices, and increase access to liquor of all kinds, including high-end specialty brands. Opponents, meanwhile, argued that private booze sales would incite a flood of underage drinking, drive prices up, reduce consumer choices, and harm Washington state’s homegrown wine, beer, and craft-distillery industries.
While it’s still too early to say what the ultimate outcome from liquor privatization will be, a number of consequences—intended and unintended—have become clear. Here’s a look at the fallout so far for consumers, big-box retailers, small wine distributors, and some 1,000 union workers who used to staff the state’s 328 public liquor stores.
Although detractors predicted a Costco monopoly (1183 restricted liquor sales to stores larger than 10,000 square feet and gave Costco the exclusive right to serve as its own distributor), it hasn’t exactly worked out that way. In addition to new liquor megamarts like Total Wine and More in Bellevue, booze is popping up in stores large and small(ish) across the state—from chains like Bartell Drugs and Target to minimarts like the Village Store in Port Ludlow, the Getchell Gas Station in Lake Stevens, and the 405 Express Mart in Renton. Out of 1,652 applications for spirits licenses statewide, Costco has filed only 29.
Don’t pull out your hanky for the big-box stores just yet, though. According to Joe Gilliam, president of the Northwest Grocery Association (which represents big grocery chains like Albertson’s, Safeway, and Costco), liquor sales at the stores he represents are “exceeding expectations,” especially among customers who wouldn’t ordinarily shop at liquor stores—a group Gilliam identifies, bluntly, as “moms.”
“There were a lot of moms who, before, would not go into a liquor store because they had their kids with them or because liquor stores were horrible to go into. They are now shopping for liquor with their regular shopping.”
Liquor consumers who voted for privatization on the assumption that it would mean cheaper booze and a better selection have had a rough awakening.
Whoops. Far from dropping, prices have actually increased across the board, thanks to the magic of the private market (shop owners can set prices as high as the market will allow) as well as new fees imposed under 1183.
The new fees have induced sticker shock among many liquor consumers, who apparently didn’t read the fine print when they voted for 1183. As a concession to the state, which didn’t want to lose its lucrative liquor taxes, 1183 supporters tacked on a 10 percent fee on distributors and a 17 percent fee at the cash register, ensuring that liquor privatization would be “revenue neutral” (whether it works out that way, of course, remains to be seen). Brendan Williams, a former state legislator who campaigned against the privatization measure, says 1183 assumed that liquor would have to get more expensive.
Recent news reports have also indicated that Washington state residents, particularly those who live near Oregon and Idaho, are crossing state lines to take advantage of lower liquor prices. In June alone, liquor sales at some stores just over the Oregon border surged 35 percent. But Gilliam doesn’t expect the trend to last. “The story that came out about that was based on June’s numbers,” the first month of privatized liquor sales. “Oregon has always had less expensive liquor than Washington. The average bottle in Oregon prior to privatization was almost $2 less than the average bottle in Washington. I think you’re going to see [runs for the border] dissipate.”
When the state’s 328 public liquor stores closed down, some 1,000 unionized state workers lost their jobs, along with their health care and, in some cases, pension plans. Since then, Washington State Labor Council member Bill Messenger says, he’s heard anecdotally that many of those workers are having trouble finding new employment or are working in retail jobs that pay less, include fewer benefits, or offer fewer hours than their previous state positions. Prior to privatization, state liquor store clerks made between $11 and $14 an hour. At one state-turned-private store in the Tri-Cities, Messenger says, laid-off state workers were offered their old jobs back—at 20 percent less pay, and with no health care benefits. “The big thing in today’s economy is that health care kills you,” Messenger says.
The General Public
During the 1183 campaign, opponents claimed that privatized liquor sales would be a straight line to underage drinking, juvenile crime, drunk driving, and general disorder. While crime stats aren’t yet available, according to anecdotal reports, shoplifting of liquor and underage consumption have gone up, though it’s unclear how much. “Anytime you increase the number of outlets that sell liquor, drinking and consumption goes up considerably,” says Brian Smith, communications director for the Washington State Liquor Control Board. And Gilliam—a firm supporter of privatization—offers this anecdote: “We ran into a few stores where people went into the state stores right before they closed and bought bottles that they tried to return the next day after they opened,” in the belief that they’d get a windfall returning bottles to the more-expensive privatized store. “Well, you can return liquor, but you have to have a receipt” from the new store. “That kind of squashed the whole thing. They didn’t have a receipt, so the response was, ‘Well, it looks like you own whatever you bought there.’”
The Little Guys
Small beer and wine producers and distributors, craft distilleries, and neighborhood wine shops opposed 1183, arguing that privatization would lead stores to pursue the lowest common denominator and name brands such as Gallo and Absolut would edge out costlier local products.
Williams, the former state legislator, contends that that’s exactly what has happened. “Washington wines have been squeezed off the shelves,” Williams says. “You can do volume discounting and you can do pay-to-play when it comes to shelving. You can pay a grocery store to shelve your products and give them prominent shelf space, and that operates to the detriment of your competitors.”
“It’s the perfect storm of high prices and reduced consumer choices.”
Gilliam, the big-box lobbyist, sees reduced selection as the inevitable result of supply and demand. Under the state-run system, he says, “they would put a lot of things on the shelf that would just sit there. What the private market is going to do is find out what the customers want, and they aren’t going to carry everything.”
“Moms are now buying liquor with their regular shopping.”
Liquor Control Board spokesman Smith agrees that privatization has, so far at least, decreased the selection available to consumers. Smith says state liquor stores typically stocked around 1,500 items. “I’m seeing much less than that at your typical grocery store,” Smith says. “Some of the former liquor stores and the contract stores are really trying to amp up their selections, and stores like BevMo! and other superstores can carry a lot more.”
But that, Williams counters, is part of the problem: Big cities like Seattle and Bellevue have gained access to liquor superstores, including not just BevMo! in Tacoma and Silverdale but Total Wine and More in Bellevue and Wine World and Spirits in Wallingford (see Washington's New Liquor Superstores). But smaller towns and rural areas have lost access to the diversity of products state liquor stores provided. “In Seattle, you’ll have all sorts of choices—that’s great—but if you live in a rural community or a smaller community that’s only served by grocery stores, you’re not going to have many options,” Williams says.
Meanwhile, some smaller wine stores are adapting to survive. Alisha Gosline, marketing director for Esquin Wine and Spirits in SoDo, explains Esquin’s “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” response to privatization this way: “We expanded. We were not quite 10,000 square feet.” So to meet the minimum size required to sell spirits, “we expanded our retail space so that we can accommodate liquor.” Gosline says Esquin is trying to carry as much local and craft liquor as possible, “because the grocery stores aren’t going there.” Although Esquin’s wine sales have dipped slightly, Gosline attributes the drop-off to the “novelty” factor of liquor in a wine shop. “Our liquor sales are higher than we thought they would be,” Gosline says. “People are like, ‘Oh, well, here’s liquor! We should buy some liquor because we can.’”
Jan Gee, president and CEO of the Washington Food Industry Association, which represents small and midsize independent grocery stores, says her members have scaled back the amount of space they dedicate to wine. “Because our stores have to provide some space for spirits, they have started to shrink their wine inventory,” Gee says.
Gilliam, the lobbyist for big grocery stores, says consumers who want more options should ask their grocery manager to stock the items they want. “If someone is looking for a Walla Walla wine from some small winery, all they have to do is ask,” he says. “Stores are going to find out what their customers want” and act accordingly.
That’s a comforting thought—supply and demand will balance out, and the wisdom of the market will prevail. For now, though, the biggest winners appear to be the big-box stores that can buy and sell high-volume, popular bottles at a discount, while the smaller stores, and consumers, find themselves getting less and paying more.
Updated August 30, 2012, to reflect the correct name of Total Wine and More, rather than the original Total Wine and Spirits, in Bellevue.
Industry giants are threatening to swallow up America's carefully regulated alcohol industry, and remake America in the image of booze-soaked Britain.
2C-I or 'Smiles': The New Killer Drug Every Parent Should Know About
By Piper Weiss, Shine Staff - Healthy Living – Thu, Sep 20, 2012 3:18 PM EDT
Witnesses described the 17-year-old boy as "shaking, growling, foaming at the mouth. "According to police reports, Elijah Stai was at a McDonald's with his friend when he began to feel ill. Soon after, he "started to smash his head against the ground" and began acting "possessed," according to a witness. Two hours later, he had stopped breathing.
The Grand Forks, North Dakota teenager's fatal overdose has been blamed on a drug called 2C-I. The night before Stai's overdose, another area teen, Christian Bjerk, 18, was found face down on a sidewalk. His death was also linked to the drug.
2C-I – known by its eerie street name "Smiles" – has become a serious problem in the Grand Forks area, according to local police. Overdoses of the drug have also been reported in Indiana and Minnesota. But if the internet is any indication, Smiles is surfacing in many parts of the country.
"At the moment I am completely and fully submerged, if you can't tell by my eyes, in a psychedelic world known as 2C-I," says a man who appears to be in his late teens or early 20s on a YouTube video posted back in October. His pupils are dilated. He struggles to formulate a description of what he's feeling – it's hard to tell if it’s because his experience is profound or if his speech skills are simply blunted. He's one of dozens of users providing YouTube "reports" of their experiences on the synthetic drug.
Smile's effects have been called a combination of MDMA and LSD, only far more potent. Users have reported a speedy charge along with intense visual and aural hallucinations that can last anywhere from hours to days.
"At first I'd think something was extremely beautiful and then it look really strange," another user says in a recorded online account."I looked at my girlfriend's face for a minute and it was pitch black…the black started dripping out of her eye."
Because the drug is relatively new – it first surfaced around 2003 in European party scenes and only recently made its way to the states – the most readily accessible information about 2C-I comes from user accounts, many of which detail frightening experiences.
On an internet forum one user describes the high as a "roller coaster ride through hell," while another warns "do not drive on this drug," after recounting his own failed attempt on the roadway.
Over the past few years, synthetic drugs like K-2, Spice and Bath Salts, have become increasing popular with teenagers and young adults. Their ingredients are relatively easy to obtain and until recently, they weren't classified as illegal substances. But as they come under legal scrutiny, one by one, they've triggered a domino effect of newer, altered, and more potent versions.
"I think [the drugs] just keep changing to try to circumvent the law," Lindsay Wold, a detective with the Grand Forks police department, told Yahoo Shine "Anytime we try to figure something out, it changes." Since July, her department has launched an awareness campaign in an effort to crack down on 2C-I's growing popularity with teens and young adults in the area. While reports of overdoses have increased, Wold says it's difficult to measure its growth in numbers.
According data obtained by the American Association of Poison Control half of those exposed to 2C-I in 2011 were teenagers. That statistic was before two fatalities and multiple overdoses were linked to the drug in North Dakota.
"The unfortunate thing is if kids who are overdosing on 2C-I go in to the hospital with a physical problem, a lot of times they can't test for it so it doesn't show up as a drug overdose," says Wold.
The fact that 2C-I is new and untraceable in standard drug tests makes it more of a challenge for doctors to treat. It also contributes to drug's growing popularity among high school and college-age kids.
"Synthetic drugs don't generally show up on drug tests and that's made it popular with young adults, as well as people entering the military, college athletes, or anyone who gets tested for drugs," Barbara Carreno, a spokesperson for the Drug Enforcement Agency, tells Shine.
2C-I may be undetected in drug tests, but its effects are evident in emergency rooms.
According to James Mowry, the director of Indiana's Poison Control Center, 2-CI overdoses have been known to cause seizures, kidney failure, and fatally high blood pressure.
"They do something that is called 'uncoupling." Mowry told an Indianapolis news station this month. "Basically, their muscles get to the point they cannot uncontract, so they sort of get rigid and then your temperature goes up really high and if you don't treat them really aggressively, those people usually end up dying."
In July, the DEA announced Operation Log Jam, the first nationwide coordinated US Law Enforcement strike specifically targeting designer synthetic drugs. That same month, 2C-I was classified as a Schedule-1 substance, making possession and distribution of the drug illegal. Those caught distributing even a small amount are facing serious criminal charges. Stai's friend, who allegedly obtained the drug that caused his overdose, has been charged with third degree murder.
While the drug's potential for overdose is apparent, the specific cases of fatalities are confounding. According to one site designed as a "fact sheet" for users, the dosage of the drug, which also comes as a liquid or a pill, is difficult to measure in powder form. When users snort the drug they could end up taking more than they realize, prompting an overdose. But in the case of Stai, the powder wasn't snorted, but melted into a chocolate bar and eaten.
Some speculate those "hobby chemists" – making the drug using powders shipped from China, acetone and plant-based materials – are to blame for concocting particularly strong or toxic batches.
"Anybody with a little money to front can import chemicals, mix, and sell it," says Carreno. "Many of these types of drugs were originally designed for research to be used on animals, not people." In fact, 2C-I was first synthesized by Alexander Shulgin, a psychopharmacologist and scientific researcher. He's responsible for identifying the chemical make-up of the so-called "2C" family, a group of hyper-potent psychedelic synthetics. In 2011, 2C-E, a sister drug to 2C-I, was blamed for the death of a Minnesota teenager and the overdose of 11 others.
Because of his research, Shulgin has become an unintentional icon of the synthetic drug movement, and his formulas have been reprinted, and reduced to plain language, on drug-related web forums.
"Drugs used to take longer to get around but now with the internet they can spread by word of mouth online," says Carreno. If drugs like Smiles can be as viral as an internet meme, they have a similarly brief life-span. Already, a newer, re-booted version of the drug is cropping up on the other side of the planet, and by early accounts it's terrifying.
The new drug called 25b-Nbome, is a derivative of 2C-I, that's sold in tab form. This past month, the drug has been linked to the non-fatal overdoses of two young adults in Perth, Australia. It's also been blamed for the death of a young man in the same area, who died after repeatedly slamming his body into trees and power line poles while high on the drug.
"Overdose on these drugs is a reality... and can obviously result in dire consequences," a Perth police department official warned.
It isn't obvious to everyone. "I can't recommend for anyone to go out and use this legally," says one alleged 2C-I user in a YouTube video with 12,000 views, "but why not?"
Majority in U.S. Drink Alcohol, Averaging Four Drinks a Week
Beer edges out wine by 39% to 35% as drinkers' beverage of choice
August 18, 2012
While only 12% of drinkers report consuming eight or more drinks in the past week -- averaging more than one per day -- Gallup finds 22% of drinkers saying they sometimes drink too much. This is up from 17% last year, but similar to the percentages in most other years over the past decade. Prior to 2001, the proportion tended to be higher.
Drinking Rates Higher Among Men Than Women, Whites Than Nonwhites
Drinking habits vary considerably by gender, race, and age. While roughly equal proportions of men and women say they ever have occasion to drink, men tend to drink more. Specifically, men who drink report consuming 6.2 drinks, on average, in the past week, compared with the 2.2 drinks consumed by women. Also, nearly three in 10 male drinkers admit they sometimes consume more alcohol than they think they should, versus 14% of female drinkers.
Not only are whites more likely to drink than nonwhites, but white drinkers report consuming more alcohol than nonwhites -- 4.5 drinks on average in the past week among whites, compared with 3.3 among nonwhites.
Younger adults drink more than older adults and, as a result, men aged 18 to 49 are the heaviest drinkers of any age/gender group. The sharpest differences are seen in self-reported overdrinking, with 36% of younger men admitting they sometimes drink too much, compared with 18% of older men, 20% of younger women, and 8% of older women.
Men Still Prefer Beer; Women Still Prefer Wine
The slight majority of male drinkers, 55%, say they most often drink beer, followed by liquor and wine at 21% and 20%, respectively. Female drinkers have an equally strong preference for wine, with 52% saying they most often drink wine and just over 20% favoring either liquor or beer.
Beer is the beverage of choice among both 18- to 34-year-olds and those aged 35 to 54, while adults aged 55 and older lean more toward wine.
Additionally, drinkers in the Midwest show the greatest preference for beer, while those in the East are the most likely to drink wine, as Gallup has found in prior years.
Alcoholic Beverage Consumed Most Often by U.S. Adult Drinkers, by Gender, Age, and Region, July 2012
Drinking is commonplace in the U.S., with two-thirds of Americans saying they ever drink alcohol, and just over 40% reporting that they had at least one drink in the past week. Drinkers still show a slight preference for beer, but wine is not far behind.
With drinking comes overdrinking, and despite possible reluctance by some respondents to admit problems, one in five drinkers -- representing 14% of all U.S. adults -- say they sometimes drink too much. The rates are particularly high among men and younger adults, making younger men the most at risk for this behavior.
LANSING — Alcohol is different from other consumer products and requires different laws, a panel of alcohol policy experts said at a Center for Alcohol Policy forum this week in Lansing.
Brannon Denning, professor at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law and CAP Advisory Council member, began the session by providing a global perspective on alcohol regulation, discussing factors that influence alcohol laws such as religion, ethnicity, climate and history. He recounted the history of America’s experience with alcohol, noting how unique it is for a product to be the subject of two constitutional amendments. America’s history of abuses with alcohol leading up to national Prohibition is important to remember, he argued, in order to understand why we have the state-based alcohol regulatory system that we have today.
“According to national polling, over three-fourths of people say they understand that alcohol is different and needs different rules,”Denning said.
Steven Schmidt, senior vice president of public policy and communications at the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association,provided a national perspective of current alcohol regulatory and safety trends and described broad themes driving deregulatory efforts, including anti-government sentiment, state budget shortfalls, big retailers, alcohol abuse apathy and consumer and media perceptions that alcohol is just like any other product.
“The three-tier system and alcohol regulation in the U.S. has worked very well,” Schmidt said, indicating that America does not experience large problems with bootlegging, counterfeit products or a black market, which have proven deadly in other parts of the world that lack an effective regulatory system for alcohol.
Michigan Liquor Control Commission Chairman Andrew Deloney explained how Michigan’s alcohol laws guide the commission’s operations and described the goals of the Snyder Administration of creating a simple and predictable process for licensing, a system of certainty for decision making based on statute as well as open and accountable operations.
Howard Goldberg of Willingham & Cote P.C. in East Lansing spoke about the history of legal decisions impacting Michigan alcohol law and noted that actions by the state legislature indicate that its members clearly care about public health and safety. He also cautioned that policymakers should be cautious when developing legislation to assist in-state breweries and wineries due to the potential of court challenges.
Pamela Erickson, President & CEO of Public Action Management PLC and former executive director of Oregon Liquor Control, reiterated the theme that alcohol is not like other products on the market, and it should be sold, marketed and handled with a great deal of care because there is a high cost to getting it wrong.
Erickson contrasted the balanced approach of the U.S. regulatory system with the United Kingdom, which deregulated alcohol over several decades so it is now sold almost anywhere 24 hours per day, is aggressively promoted and sold below-cost at supermarkets. As a result, she said, hospital admissions for alcohol-related problems in that country have doubled in just 10 years and death rates have doubled since 1991.
“It pays to be very careful when considering deregulation as it will be difficult to revert back,” Erickson said.
The forum, “What’s Happening in the World of Alcohol Regulation,” was the third and final session of the CAP’s 2012 Michigan Alcohol Policy Forum Series held at the Radisson Hotel Lansing.
Session One of the series, “The Economic Impact of the Alcohol Industry in Michigan,” provided an overview of the alcohol industry in Michigan along with the impact of regulation. Session Two, “Public Safety and Law Enforcement in Alcohol Regulation,” explored the important relationship between alcohol regulation and alcohol law enforcement.
The Center for Alcohol Policy is a 501c(3) organization whose mission is to educate policy makers, regulators and the public about alcohol, its uniqueness and regulation. By conducting sound and scientific-based research and implementing initiatives that will maintain the appropriate state-based regulation of alcohol, the Center promotes safe and responsible consumption, fights underage drinking and drunk driving and informs key entities about the effects of alcohol consumption. For more information, visit www.centerforalcoholpolicy.org or follow the Center on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlcoholPolicy.
A Walk for the President
Dallas NAACP Seeks End To Texas Lottery
ANR Announces Winners of 2011 Smokefree Indoor Air Challenge Award
Study Connects Alcohol and Sex
"Laura Sessions Stepp in her book, Unhooked, examined the culture of casual sex of young women in high school and college," he explains. "Of the hundreds of young women that she interviewed, less than a half-dozen said that they were sober at the time. She said that alcohol is what fuels the unhooked culture among young people, especially those in college."
He decides a new study like the one from Canada's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health further affirms such research.
"[Stepp] said that these young women would drink for different reasons -- some for the exhilarating high, sometimes because others around them were drinking. But many of them were drinking to quiet the cautionary voices in their heads," Creech tells OneNewsNow.
So he finds it unfortunate that alcohol is largely a subject that much of evangelical Christianity no longer seems willing to address.
"We hear about the problem of gambling; we hear about sex, about abortion; we hear about the breakdown of the family and all of those things, but it's also true more than we realize that alcohol is the social lubricant that energizes these negative actions," he contends.
Fast food + Alcohol = 'Fast Drunks'
The White Castle hamburger chain is considering the idea of selling alcohol at more of its restaurants, but one group doesn’t think alcohol should be given any more outlets.
At this time, White Castle is only testing beer and wine sales at a location in Lafayette, Indiana. A spokesman for the chain tells Associated Press that the company has not decided whether to expand alcohol sales, but he notes that customers have reacted positively to the fact that alcoholic beverages are being offered.
Dr. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League and the American Council on Alcohol Problems says it is all about marketing more outlets.
“Marketing 101 is [the] more outlets [you have, the more] you sell of your product. That’s why McDonald’s has an outlet seemingly on every corner,” he explains. “And the same is true for alcohol. If you have more outlets, you’re going to sell more alcohol. More will be consumed over time.”
In 2011, Burger King opened “Whopper Bars” in Miami, Las Vegas, and Kansas City. In the summer, Sonic drive-ins began offering beer and wine at new locations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, although the chain said it had no plans of expanding sales outside of South Florida and assured that certain restrictions applied.
“The American Council on Alcohol Problems did issue a resolution with respect to Sonic and Burger King. It was broad and it also addressed any of this kind of initiative at any fast-food restaurants,” Creech notes.
He contends that fast food and alcohol do not mix because “fast food and alcohol makes for fast drunks.”
Light drinking linked to slight breast cancer risk
Police say teens using vodka-soaked tampons to get drunk
The disturbing trend, first noted by the Oxford Journals in 1999, said the teens experience "rapid onset of effects, lower doses of alcohol are required for intoxication, and the reduced likelihood of recent alcohol consumption being being detected on the breath," all contributed to the popularity of this method of abusing alcohol.
According to Thomas, the students are inventing new ways to consume alcohol that is less detectable by their parents and teachers. He suggests parents become more involved in their children's lives to combat these problems of alcohol use among teenagers.
Dr. Dan Quan, of the Maricopa Medical Center, told KPHO that students would obtain a "quicker high" and the effects were "more intense" then through oral consumption. "It's problematic because you don't really know how much you're going to absorb," Quan said.
Quan added that vodka-soaked tampons, which contain about a shot of alcohol, can cause "mucosal irritation to the vagina" or rectum. The physician said the trend could have life-threatening consequences. "If the person does pass out or lose consciousness, health care professionals won't necessarily know that they have to look in those areas and that may delay treatment."
KPHO reports that a myth persists among teenagers that if they use alcohol-soaked tampons they would "pass a breathalyser test because they didn't actually drink the booze." But this is untrue. A breathalyser "checks what's in your blood-stream not the amount of booze on your breath," and wouldn't change the blood alcohol content determined by the test.Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/314232#ixzz1djAFpS8k
Teens exposed in music
There were about 3.4 alcohol brand references per hour of music, and the average teen hears about 2.5 hours of music per day, meaning they’re getting significant annual exposure, the authors said. Mentions of alcohol brands are the most common in rap, R&B and hip-hop songs and were more often positive than negative, the study found.
Local Governments in Southern States Look to Alcohol to Boost Revenues
By Join Together Staff | September 29, 2011
From The Partnership at Drugfree.org
Local governments in southern states are starting to look to alcohol sales as a way to boost revenues.
In Harrison, Arkansas, stores began selling beer and wine earlier this year, the Associated Press reports. The city hopes it will bring in up to $200,000 annually from alcohol-related sales taxes and fees—which represents about 1 percent of the budget.
The city of 13,000 residents, in the Ozark Mountains, finds tourists are staying longer ever since voters approved alcohol sales in the city last year. “We’re a pretty poor county, and we just can’t afford to say we don’t want anyone’s business,” Gerald Ragland, Harrison’s Finance Director, told the AP.
Until last year, Boone County, where Harrison is located, was “dry,” as were many municipalities across the South. Critics of the move to allow alcohol sales in Harrison said dry laws help prevent criminal activity and underage drinking. Supporters of lifting the alcohol sales ban countered that the law promoted increased drinking, because people would buy alcohol in bulk when they had to drive further to purchase it.
Other towns across the South are easing alcohol sales restrictions, including laws that prohibit sales on Sundays. Many dry laws have been eliminated in Texas since 2003, when the state legislature changed state law to make it less complicated to hold “wet/dry” elections, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
Finnish researchers recommend banning higher-alcohol content drinks
September 9, 2011
The study says restricting the availability of higher-alcohol drinks in Alko, the state monopoly liquor store, will save around 350 people a year from alcohol-related deaths.
HELSINKI (Sept 8, 2011): Finnish researchers are recommending that beer and other drinks with more than 3.5% alcohol be banned from grocery stores to curb alcohol-related deaths.
The joint study by three research institutes said that restricting the availability of higher-alcohol drinks in Alko, the state monopoly liquor store, would save around 350 people a year from alcohol-related deaths.
Around 3,000 people die in Finland each year because of diseases or incidents related to alcohol.
The suggested ban would be modelled on a similar move by neighbouring Sweden in 1977, which helped curb alcohol-related deaths.
Finland's current limit for alcohol content at grocery stores is 4.7%.
The report on Thursday said Finland's alcohol consumption is now highly problematic, having tripled from 1968 to 2009, with the quantity of pure alcohol consumed by each person estimated at around 10.2 liter per year. Deaths directly caused by alcohol have also tripled.
Any move to reduce the alcohol content in beer in stores would reduce total alcohol consumption by 9%, researchers say.
"The public health and economy would benefit. There would be a bigger work force, and public health costs would fall. Some jobs would be cut in the brewing industry, but restaurants would need more workers as demand shifts," said Aki Kangasharju, the head of the Government Institute for Economic Research.
"It is not a matter of beer taste, there are plenty of tastes around with 3.5%. It is more of a cultural thing."
Pia Makela from the National Institute for Health and Welfare said Finns' typical drinking habits had changed from the occasional, heavy binge to more frequent drinking.
"People still drink a lot at a time, but additionally they drink smaller amounts more regularly. Liver cirrhosis deaths have increased a lot," she said. – Reuters
Blood Spilled at Games Because of Alcohol Sales Must Stop!
Short-term drink deterrent
College freshmen who take an online alcohol prevention course may drink less, but the effects don’t last long, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Researchers looked at the effectiveness of a commercial course against binge drinking called AlcoholEdu, which is often offered just before freshmen arrive on campus. They conducted a randomized trial at 30 public and private universities in the United States, giving half the freshmen the course and then following up with surveys with some of them. They found that students who took the class reported significantly less alcohol use and binge drinking during the fall compared with the other students. But the results didn’t last into the spring semester; the authors suggest that other methods are needed to reinforce the message.
Liquor Store Density Linked to Youth Homicides
September 7, 2011
UC Riverside researchers also find connection between sales of single-serve containers of alcoholic beverages and violent crime.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Violent crime could be reduced significantly if policymakers at the local level limit the number of neighborhood liquor stores and ban the sale of single-serve containers of alcoholic beverages, according to separate studies led by University of California, Riverside researchers.
In the first of two groundbreaking studies published in the September issue of the journal Drug and Alcohol Review – “Alcohol availability and youth homicide in 91 of the largest U.S. cities, 1984-2006” – researchers found a correlation between the density of alcohol outlets and violent crime rates among teens and young adults ages 13 to 24. Study authors were sociology professors Robert N. Parker and Kirk R. Williams, co-directors of the Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies at UCR; Kevin J. McCaffree, UCR research assistant; sociology professor Emily K. Acensio of the University of Akron, who earned her Ph.D. at UCR; Angela Browne of the Vera Institute of Justice in Washington, D.C.; and Kevin J. Strom and Kelle Barrick of RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
The second study, “The impact of retail practices on violence: The case of single serve alcohol beverage containers,” examined crime rates and cooler space allocated to containers sold individually in San Bernardino, Calif. Researchers generally found higher rates of violent crime in neighborhoods around alcohol outlets that allot more than 10 percent of cooler space for single-serve containers. Study authors were Parker, McCaffree and Daniel Skiles of the Institute for Public Strategies in San Bernardino.
Drug and Alcohol Review is published by the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs.
“These results suggest that alcohol control can be an important tool in violence prevention,” Parker said. “Policies designed to reduce outlet density can provide relief from violence in and around these neighborhood outlets. And banning or reducing the sales of single-serve, ready-to-consume containers of alcohol can have an additional impact on preventing violence.”
Researchers in the first study analyzed federal crime data for offenders ages 13 to 17 and 18 to 24 and census population and economic data to determine crime rates and the density of beer, wine and liquor stores in 91 of the largest American cities in 36 states.
Taking into account other factors known to contribute to youth homicide rates – such as poverty, drugs, availability of guns, and gangs – the researchers found that higher densities of liquor stores, providing easy access to alcoholic beverages, contributed significantly to higher youth homicide rates.
“Our findings suggest that reducing retail alcohol outlet density should significantly reduce the trends of youth homicide,” Parker said.
In the study of single-serve alcohol containers, researchers from UCR and the Institute for Public Strategies in San Bernardino collected data on alcohol outlet locations, violent crime reported to the San Bernardino Police Department and census data on a variety of population, family and age indicators. Workers from the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Program visited every liquor store in the city, and counted the number of coolers containing alcoholic beverages at each location and the amount of cooler space devoted to single-serve containers.
All of that data was mapped using a Geographic Information Systems software program.
The researchers found that violent crime rates were significantly higher in neighborhoods that had both higher densities of liquor stores and retail outlets that devoted more cooler space for single-serve containers. The impact of sales of single-serve containers of alcoholic beverages alone was “modest,” they said. The higher the percentage
“As far as we are aware, this is the first study of its kind to examine the impact of single-serve sales on violence, and the first study to use the proportion of cooler space as an indicator of sales volume of a type of alcoholic beverage,” the researchers wrote. … “There is no reason that communities concerned about single-serve containers and their impact cannot take regulatory action on the basis of this limited study. Community interests should dictate local policy, and the potential benefits of reduced violence outweigh any potential harm that the banning or limitation of such sales would create.”
Parker said one type of regulatory measure that could be justified on the basis of the study’s findings would be the adoption of a Deemed Approved Ordinance. Such a law would give cities more authority “to set acceptable standards of practice for existing alcohol retailers, as well as help to reduce existing outlet density by strengthening the local authority’s ability to punish consistent violators of these standards of practice with the permanent loss of the ability to do business.”
**Cities included in the youth homicide study, by state:
Alabama: Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery
Arkansas: Little Rock
California: Anaheim, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ana, Stockton
Colorado: Colorado Springs, Denver
Georgia: Atlanta, Columbus
Indiana: Fort Wayne, Gary, Indianapolis
Iowa: Des Moines
Kentucky: Lexington-Fayette, Louisville
Louisiana: Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport
Massachusetts: Boston, Springfield, Worcester
Michigan: Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids
Minnesota: Minneapolis, St. Paul
Missouri: Kansas City, St. Louis
Nevada: Las Vegas
New Jersey: Jersey City, Newark
New Mexico: Albuquerque
New York: Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse
North Carolina: Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh
Ohio: Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo
Oklahoma: Oklahoma City, Tulsa
Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
Rhode Island: Providence
Tennessee: Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville-Davidson
Texas: Amarillo, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, San Antonio
Utah: Salt Lake City
Virginia: Norfolk, Richmond, Virginia Beach
Washington: Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma
Wisconsin: Madison, Milwaukee
Top 100 cities eliminated from study for incomplete data:
District of Columbia, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Omaha, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Tucson and Wichita.
Facebook Linked to Teenage Drinking, Drug Use
Congress may OK online gambling
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Jon Kyl in the last few weeks asked the Justice Department to stop state efforts to legalize gambling, sources said. If states act on their own, that could disrupt the federal effort.
- Large Republican donor and Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson is now on board with such a federal move, Gross said. Adelson, he said, sees the move as a window of opportunity to grow sales. Adelson is close to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who will be important for gambling advocates to win over. Adelson did not return calls for comment.
- House Speaker John Boehner is another important Congressional leader to get on board, and his long-time aide, Lee Askew, earlier this year became vice president of government affairs for the American Gaming Association.
No Convictions in the Alabama bingo trial; judge to set new trial date on mistrials (updated)
The judge is declaring mistrials on the charges for which the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict, and he said he would set a new trial date within a month. [Click here to read the entire story.]
Though the gambling corruption trial resulted in no convictions for the nine defendants and a mistrial has been declared on several of the counts, the fact remains that gambling and corruption go hand-in-hand. It is always difficult to prove intentions when money changes hands. The fact that the gambling bosses gave large sums of money to various legislators and candidates was never denied; all that happened is that the prosecution could not prove the money was associated with particular votes on gambling. It must also be remembered that two of the original eleven defendants pled guilty to the corruption charges.
We can be confident that the gambling bosses will likely continue to identify candidates, incumbent legislators and constitutional officers they can support financially in order to affect the laws of Alabama to be favorable to their multi-million dollar gambling establishments. If, eventually, they are not convicted on any of the counts, they are also likely to continue applying tremendous pressure on legislators in the hallways of the Alabama State House.
During the 2009 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature, one particular pro-gambling bill tied up the Senate for an entire 10 days out of 30 total legislative days (one third of the Regular Session)! During the 2010 Regular Legislative Session, the gambling bill which led to the FBI investigation and the corruption charges, monopolized the entire session.
The citizens of Alabama must make sure to elect people who are pro-life, pro-family and pro-moral, and especially, men and women who oppose legislation that promotes gambling. ALCAP will continue to serve as the voice of the faith community in the Alabama Legislature. We will continue to keep you updated on the current issues facing our state, and we will continue to provide your church with quality resources concerning the issues confronting our state as, together, we stand for what is right and good in Alabama! ALCAP will also continue to represent our Lord Jesus Christ in the halls of the Alabama State House as your missionaries to the center of state government.
Please continue to pray for us and remember that we depend on your financial support in order to accomplish the ministry to which God has called us.
Risky Business: Teens Buying Fake IDs from Overseas Via Internet
Pabst's Horse of a Different Color: Colt 45 Enters Controversial Ring
Alcohol Energy Drinks Banned In Alabama
Tuscaloosa voters overwhelmingly approve Sunday alcohol sales
Published: February 22, 2011
TUSCALOOSA, Ala-- Voters in the West Alabama city of Tuscaloosa have overwhelmingly approved Sunday alcohol sales.
With nearly all the ballots counted, YES votes outnumbered NO votes by nearly a 4 to 1 margin.
Sunday alcohol sales have long been a source of contention in Tuscaloosa.
The city was the largest in Alabama not to allow alcohol to be sold on Sunday.
Proponents said allowing alcohol to be sold seven days a week will be an economic windfall for the city.
Chad Smith, owner of Alcove International Tavern, said if some University of Alabama fans choose to stay an extra day after home football games, it might entice larger restaurant and hotel chains to open in the city.
The first day of Sunday alcohol sales will be March 6.
Unless the city council votes otherwise, businesses which currently sell alcohol will be allowed to sell it when Sunday sales begin.
Mobile County health officials want cities to go smoke-free
By Rena Havner Philips, Press-Register
Mobile County health officials want more local cities to ban smoking in restaurants, bars and other public places. (The Associated Press)
- 22 percent of Alabamians smoke, but that number is slightly higher in Mobile County.
- Second-hand smoke is the third most preventable cause of death in the United States, causing at least 35,000 deaths each year from heart disease and 3,000 more from lung cancer.
- Waiters and waitresses who work in restaurants that allow smoking are 50 percent more at-risk to get cancer.
- And a bartender who pours drinks in a smoky bar for an eight-hour shift experiences the same effects as someone who just smoked three packs of cigarettes.
Working to Separate an Unhealthy Combination – Alcohol and Sports
from the Fresh Story Blog - 2/1/11
A new study has found that alcohol and sports make a truly dangerous combination, with one in every 12 fans leaving major sporting events drunk. The study was reported online in January this year, and will be published in the April 2011 print edition of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota conducted the research following 13 baseball games and three football games in 2006. Fans volunteered to participate in an anonymous breathalyzer test as well as a brief verbal survey as they were leaving the event stadium. The study is the first ever in the U.S. to measure blood alcohol content levels in fans after professional sporting events. Here’s a summary of what they learned:
- One in 12 fans was legally intoxicated when he or she left the event.
- Fans under the age of 35 were nine times more likely to be drunk.
- Fans who tailgated before a game were 14 times more likely to leave the game drunk.
- About one in four fans who tailgated said they had consumed five or more alcohol beverages while tailgating.
Given the startling data of the study, public health advocates are calling for sobriety check-points and tests for fans after games, as well as discouraging tailgating and halting alcohol sales in the latter portion of games. While these measures are certainly a good start, others are working to disentangle alcohol and sports – especially when it comes to college sports.
In North Dakota, state representative Chuck Damschen has introduced a bill that would ban alcohol at the state’s collegiate athletic events. Representative Damschen has said that the purpose of the proposal is to help fight underage drinking at college sport events. If approved, the bill would ban alcohol at all collegiate sporting events, including all college facilities and adjacent properties that are often used for tailgating.
Elsewhere on the college front, there are signs that sports can be freed from the alcohol connection. For example, among the 120 largest schools in NCAA Division 1, only about three dozen allow beer sales inside the stadiums, and most limit alcohol sales to luxury suites. The country’s largest college football venue, Michigan Stadium, has been and continues to be alcohol-free – even after a recent renovation and addition of luxury suites. Other prominent college football schools, such as Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Colorado at Boulder – are all examples of universities that fill their stadiums, game after game and season after season, without alcohol sales.
Another positive sign has been the success of the Big Ten Network, which is the first television sports network that does not accept alcohol advertising. The Big Ten Network is a dedicated cable sports channel for the Big Ten Conference. As of September last year, the network had approximately 43 million subscribers, as well as a sold-out ad schedule for the 2010 football season – without beer commercials. According to the network’s vice president of advertising, the alcohol-free policy has been positive. “People like us for having a different environment,” he said. The success of the Big Ten Network has demonstrated that sports television can succeed without beer ads. Now that other conferences such as the Southeastern Conference have also announced plans to launch their own cable sports channels, hopefully they will follow the Big Ten’s example of alcohol-free college sports television.
To learn more about the issue of alcohol and sports, especially televised sports, see the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Campaign for Alcohol-Free Sports TV.
Sources: “One in 12 fans leaves major sports events drunk: study,” BusinessWeek.com, January 18, 2011. “Bill to ban alcohol at collegiate athletic events introduced,” GrandForksHerald.com, December 31, 2010. “Big Ten Network cashing in on football,”Broadcasting & Cable.com, September 6, 2010. “Beer sales make a comeback at college stadiums,” Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2009.
The rot in values that is causing America’s decline
But missing from the president’s new, post-midterm vision for America is any mention of the rot in values that is causing our decline. The reason we don’t excel in education is not because our schools focus on philosophy and the humanities to the exclusion of science and math, but rather because we are becoming a pack of ignoramuses watching inane TV shows, following the lives of mostly decadent celebrities, and engaging in an endless orgy of consumption. Our problem is not that we read too much Nietzsche and too little astrophysics, but rather that our character is becoming corrupt.
The solution for America is not to raise an army of sterile drones, engineered into productive obedience by a government that emphasizes equations. I have no interest in living in China; communist totalitarianism dare not be our model. Rather, our solution is to reembrace the values that made America great: thrift, hard work, close-knit families, a pioneering spirit, entrepreneurship, a love of adventure, fearlessness, a rejection of indolence, faith-based ethics, a God-centric society, and a belief in spreading freedom and democracy. [To read the rest of the article, click here.]
Georgia Facing a Hard Choice on Free Tuition
By KIM SEVERSON
Published: January 6, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. — Students here at the University of Georgia have a name for some of the fancy cars parked in the lots around campus. They call them Hopemobiles. But there may soon be fewer of them.
The cars are gifts from parents who find themselves with extra cash because their children decided to take advantage of a cherished state perk — the Hope scholarship. The largest merit-based college scholarship program in the United States it offers any Georgia high school student with a B-average four years of free college tuition.
But the Hope scholarship program is about to be cut by a new governor and Legislature facing staggering financial troubles. [Click here to read the entire story of how the Georgia Lottery is failing!]
Alcoholic Whipped Cream: Another Binge Drink in a Can?
Although alcoholic whipped cream isn't likely to get kids as wasted as quickly as Four Loko did — not without first causing a stomachache — public health experts fear that the boozy whip targets young consumers. It comes in flavors like chocolate, raspberry, orange and cherry. Cream's MySpace page recommends adding the product to drinks like Jell-O shots — a staple at college parties.
Citing crime, Dutch may crack down on marijuana tourism
Baptist Press / November 19, 2010
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (BP)--Acknowledging that marijuana decriminalization has led to an increase in crime and societal problems, the new Netherlands conservative-leaning government wants to crack down on drug tourism by limiting marijuana sales in so-called "coffee shops" to Dutch residents.
Millions of tourists from all over Europe come to the Netherlands each year to smoke pot, which is relatively cheap at the coffee shops, or marijuana cafes. There are hundreds of such shops in Amsterdam and elsewhere.
"No tourist attractions. We don't like that," the minister, Ivo Opstelten, said during an interview with Netherlands media Nov. 17, Reuters reported. "The heart of the problem is crime and disturbances sur rounding the sale. We have to go back to what it was meant for: local use for those who would like it."
Some British companies have unabashedly catered to drug tourists. One company calling itself the Dam Express (for Amsterdam) offers weekend roundtrip bus tours to Amsterdam for about $95 in U.S. currency, and advertises with depictions of cartoon characters getting stoned and drunk. "Why not visit the world famous Red Light District?" the website asks.
The coalition government's marijuana proposal said it wanted to take action to combat "anti-social and criminal behaviour linked to prostitution and drug trafficking." (The prostitution proposal includes raising the minimum age for prostitutes to 21.) Among the coalition's proposals related to marijuana:
Study: Alcohol more lethal than heroin, cocaine
Sunday, October 31, 2010; 8:08 PM
Doctors: Alcohol-Caffeine Drinks Pose Health Risk to College-Age Fans
Rendell’s something-for-nothing scheme leaves Pennsylvania in a fiscal mess
Experts Question Controversial New Study About Moderate Drinking During Pregnancy
“A drink or two during pregnancy? Not so fast,” abcnews.com, October 6, 2010
“Drinking alcohol during pregnancy decreases your baby’s brain power,” ivanhoe.com, October 21, 2010
Riley Targets Poarch
Posted on Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 at 9:54 pm.
By Staff Reports
Now that the State of Alabama is fully enforcing its gaming laws, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians are the latest target of Gov. Bob Riley’s anti-gambling movement.
For over a year, Riley’s anti-gambling task force was on a mission to rid the state of gambling establishments as it traveled county-by-county raiding such facilities.
Now, with only three months left in his administration, Riley is preparing to ask federal officials to shut down the state’s Indian casinos owned by the Poach Band of Creek Indians based out of Atmore.
“Gov. Riley has said that once the state has proven its determination to combat illegal gambling in our state, then the federal government will have to address the issue at Indian casinos,” Press Secretary Todd Stacy said. “There are still cases ongoing, however, the state’s determination to enforce the law has certainly been proven.”
Stacy said that determination was made after non-Indian gambling establishments such as Victory Land, Greenetrack, White Hall and numerous others statewide were raided and essentially forced to cease operations leaving PCI the only existing gaming in the state. He added that it all stemmed from an investigation conducted by the National Indian Gaming Commission in 2004 when investigators were sent to investigate Indian gaming in Alabama at the request of the governor and attorney general.
“They sent a letter to the attorney general confirming that there were Class III slot machines in Alabama in operation on Indian land and that essentially they couldn’t do anything about it because the same machines were in use on non-Indian facilities at Victory Land, Greenetrack and White Hall specifically,” Stacy said. “The commission essentially said that’s the reason why they can’t do anything about the Indians because the State is allowing this same activity to occur on non-Indian land. Obviously that has changed, that is no longer the case.”
Poarch Creek Indian Gaming President Jay Dorris, who was unavailable for comment, said earlier this year that the Tribe answers to the NIGC.
“We have many, many years, decades, of legal precedence that clearly establishes that our operations are governed by the federal agency and not the state,” Dorris said.
NIGC officials have stated that the games being operated at the Tribe’s facilities including Wind Creek Casino & Hotel in Atmore, Tallapoosa Casino in Montgomery and Riverside Casino in Wetumpka are permissible at Indian casinos as long as paper bingo is legal in Alabama. The Tribe operates more than 3,000 of what they refer to as Class II electronic bingo games 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Riley’s office views the issue differently, Stacy said.
“Years ago, when laws weren’t being enforced, that was understandable that the federal government wouldn’t do anything about the Indians, but today, that’s no longer the case,” Stacy said. “Alabama is enforcing the law and it’s being enforced equally and evenly in every county throughout the state whereas in the past, it wasn’t.”
Now Riley’s administration will make sure that the federal regulatory authorities are aware that since the law prohibits these machines, they are not to be operated anywhere in the state, Stacy said.
Caught on Tape: A Lobbyist's Golf Party for Lawmakers
Milton McGregor, Alabama legislators indicted in bingo probe; lobbyists among 11 charged in federal vote-buying scheme
Published: Tuesday, October 05, 2010, 5:30 AM Updated: Tuesday, October 05, 2010, 12:48 PM
In all, 11 people were indicted in a broad vote-buying scheme in which federal prosecutors allege millions of dollars in campaign contributions, a $1 million-a-year job and election-year assistance were offered in exchange for critical yes votes on a gambling bill that went before legislators last spring.
Prosecutors said the casino owners, legislators and lobbyists formed a corrupt network to buy and sell votes in the Legislature. But some of the defendants called the indictment an overtly political move designed to influence the outcome of the Nov. 2 elections.
Announcing the indictments in a press conference in Washington, D.C., Lanny A. Breuer, assistant attorney general of the Criminal Division, said: "The people of Alabama, like all our citizens, deserve to have representatives who act in the public's interest, not for their own personal financial gain. Vote-buying, like the kind alleged in this indictment, corrodes the public's faith in our democratic institutions and cannot go unpunished."
In addition to McGregor, Country Crossing owner Ronnie Gilley was charged with trying to buy yes votes for a bill that could have allowed bingo casinos like his to continue operating.
Gilley's lawyer, former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones of Birmingham, said politics are behind the indictments.
"The Department of Justice killed the bill back when it was in the Legislature. Now 30 days before an election they hustle this indictment up," Jones said.
McGregor lawyer Joe Espy of Montgomery said McGregor is innocent and he looks forward to proving it in court.
"We are supremely confident that a trial based on the truth will show that the government's allegations are wrong and that Mr. McGregor is innocent," Espy said.
The 39-count indictment charges that McGregor and Gilley conspired with some lawmakers and lobbyists to buy the votes of legislators on a bill that would have let voters go to the polls in November to decide whether to allow electronic bingo. The Senate passed the bill in March, but it died in the House after federal investigators told legislators about the corruption probe.
Sens. Jim Preuitt, a long time Talladega Democrat who switched over to the Republican Party this year, and Larry Means, an Etowah County Democrat, were two lawmakers McGregor and Gilley offered money for their yes votes, the indictment alleges.
One lobbyist who pleaded guilty last week to corruption charges said she offered Preuitt $2 million for his vote on the gambling legislation. Means was offered $100,000 for his vote by the same lobbyist, who said the offers were approved by fellow lobbyist Jarrod Massey. Massey's biggest client is Gilley.
Both Preuitt and Means provided critical yes votes for the gambling bill that passed the Senate.
In a written statement issued late Monday, Means denied he had done anything wrong.
"The accusations against me are false and offend every value I hold dear," Means said.
Massey, who also was indicted Monday, was named by Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, earlier this year as the lobbyist who told him he could arrange a $250,000 campaign contribution if Sanford supported a yes vote on gambling. Sanford voted no on the bill.
The indictments identify three unnamed lawmakers who were offered bribes in exchange for yes votes on gambling. Earlier this year, The News reported that three lawmakers -- two House members and one senator -- agreed to wear wires for the FBI.
The state senator who cooperated with prosecutors is Gardendale Republican Scott Beason. In the indictment, Beason is identified as legislator 2. The indictment spells out a series of offers made to Beason if he would vote yes on the gambling legislation.
The indictment details meetings Beason had with Gilley, Massey, McGregor and fellow Sen. Harri Anne Smith, who also was indicted Monday. The indictment contends it was made clear to Beason that, in exchange for a yes vote on gambling, supporters were ready to offer him a $1 million-a-year contract to do public relations work and even to help him gain a leadership position in the Legislature.
Beason voted no on the bill.
Reached by phone Monday, Beason said he could not comment now.
"I can't confirm anything right now. I don't want to do anything that might jeopardize the investigation," Beason said.
Smith reacted strongly to her indictment.
"This is an outrage," Smith said. "This is a nakedly political move, coordinated by prosecutors in cahoots with the governor's office to deny the people of the Wiregrass their right to vote and their lawful representation."
Also indicted Monday were lobbyists Bob Geddie and Tom Coker, both of whom are among Montgomery's most influential lobbyists and both of whom count McGregor as a client.
Geddie released a prepared statement saying that he had committed no wrongdoing and was confident the charges against him would be proved false. Geddie also said he was taking a leave of absence from his lobbying firm, Fine Geddie & Associates.
Joseph Crosby, an analyst with the Legislative Reference Service, was indicted on charges he conspired with McGregor in the crafting of the gambling legislation. Prosecutors contend McGregor paid him $3,000 per month.
Monday afternoon, all 11 defendants were led into a Montgomery federal courtroom in shackles for their initial appearance in the case. All 11 were granted unsecured bonds and later released, including McGregor who as a condition of his bond has to wear a monitor.
Democrats were quick to dismiss the indictments as politics.
"It would seem to be very political in nature and if, in fact, they have been doing a 19-month investigation .¤.¤. . Why would they not wait three more weeks until after the elections if this wasn't designed to influence the outcome of an election?" said state Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, who sponsored the gambling bill in the Senate.
Another powerful Senate Democrat echoed Bedford.
"Since this investigation has been going on for 19 months, I'm deeply bothered that it breaks 29 days before the election. That smacks of politics to me," said Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma.
Breuer of the Justice Department was asked Monday about the political implication of the indictments and why they were announced so close to an election.
"In a case like this we had to go with where the facts and the law were and we had to make the decision at the appropriate time and that's 100 percent what dictated the timing on this case irrespective of whether (an) election may or may not occur," Breuer said. The indictments were handed down Friday but sealed until Monday.
DOJ policy does caution against bringing voter or election fraud charges close to an election, but gives no such guidance on public corruption cases.
The gambling issue has dominated the state's politics for much of the past three years. At stake has been potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in gambling profits and a seeming growing desire among Alabamians to vote on the issue.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Ron Sparks, has made legalizing and taxing gambling his signature issue in the campaign and his opponent, Republican Robert Bentley, while personally opposed to gambling, has supported a vote on the issue.
Asked during a Monday night forum whether the indictments mean Montgomery is corrupt, Sparks said, "Absolutely not," adding that the indictments were not convictions. "These people will have their day in court," Sparks said. "But it's pretty suspicious that you drop indictments 28-29 days before an important election."
McGregor's, Gilley's and the all of the state's non-Indian bingo casinos closed earlier this year under threat of raids by the state Task Force on Illegal Gambling.
Kim Chandler and Mary Orndorff also contributed reporting to this story.
Cheap, deadly 'cheese' mix of heroin, crushed Tylenol PM aimed at kids
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Cops across Manhattan were recently told to watch out for "cheese," a mix of heroin and crushed Tylenol PM.
Cheese sells for as little as $2 a hit and delivers a euphoric high followed by drowsiness. To keep the high, users need to snort it up to 15 times a day - along with a potentially lethal dosage of acetaminophen.
Cheese, which came on the radar in Dallas in 2005, has not been seen much in New York, but heroin use among teens is on the rise in the city - and the Drug Enforcement Agency fears cheese could be the next step.
"It's the makings of a recipe for disaster," said John Gilbride, who heads the Drug Enforcement Agency's New York office. Heroin, associated with hardcore junkies and needles, has lost some of its stigma among teens who snort, rather than inject, the drug, Gilbride said.
Dealers are stamping packets with kid-friendly brands such as Mickey Mouse, Lady Gaga, Looney Tunes and Lion King, the office of New York Special Narcotics Prosecutor, Bridget Brennan said.
The percentage of public high school students who have tried heroin increased from 1.3% in 2007 to 2.6% in 2009, the city Health Department said.
Despite the small numbers, the DEA says it's recently seen more dealers marketing heroin to a younger audience and more teens busted for using it.
Cheese has been blamed for the deaths of more than 20 young users in the Dallas area.
"It can ruin lives," said an NYPD commander who recently taught patrol officers how to spot cheese.
Dallas dad Dave Cannata travels the country warning parents about the deadly mix of heroin and Tylenol PM. He found his 16-year-old boy, Nick, dead in his bedroom five years ago after he overdosed on the cocktail. "Parents need to be scared of this stuff," Cannata said. "Every day I look at his picture and I wish that I spent the 40 grand a month to send him away to get some help." Cannata, a Bronx native and computer chip specialist, said his insurance would pay only for 30 days of drug rehab. Nick Cannata was out of rehab six months when he came home in a bad mood on June 4, 2005, and went straight to bed. The next morning, he was dead. Instead of keeping the pain to himself, Dave Cannata said he speaks to parents of young addicts in Texas, Chicago and Los Angeles about cheese. "You have to jump on the problem right away. This drug is so highly addictive."
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2010/10/12/2010-10-12_this_will_kill_you_cheap_deadly_drug_mix_cheese_is_aimed_at_kids.html#ixzz12D57wFUR
Alcohol Taxes Series, Article 2:
Most State Alcohol Tax Policies Still Stuck In The Past
In spite of the deep recession and troubling budget shortfalls, alcohol tax policies in many states haven’t been updated for decades and remain stuck in the 20th century.
According to the U.S. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at least 46 states have struggled with budget shortfalls for the 2011 fiscal year. Nevertheless, most state alcohol taxes (especially beer taxes), have been untouched for decades. For example, here’s a list of 10 states and the year when beer taxes were last raised:
To view map, click here.
- Wyoming – 1935
- Pennsylvania – 1947
- Louisiana – 1948
- Michigan – 1966
- West Virginia – 1966
- North Dakota – 1967
- Georgia – 1967
- Wisconsin – 1969
- North Carolina – 1969
- South Carolina – 1969
(Source: Center for Science in the Public Interest,
States Ranked by Alcohol Tax Rates: Beer)
In fact, there are only eight states that have raised beer taxes at all since the year 2000. When inflation is factored into stagnant alcohol tax rates, the reality is clear: many state governments are making it cheaper to drink, year after year, when they can least afford the rising costs of dealing with alcohol-related problems and crime.
There have been a number of proposals for increasing alcohol taxes in various states over the past several years, but only a few have been successful. Efforts to update state alcohol tax policies have been derailed by an overall lack of information and confusion about most states’ outdated policies. Oftentimes, the alcohol industry works hard to contribute to the confusion. However, a 2004 study by the American Medical Association showed that, when they are informed about their state’s alcohol rates, most Americans would support an increase.
Alaska is one state that has been successful in modernizing its alcohol tax rates over the last 27 years. The state’s alcohol taxes were raised significantly in 1983 and again in 2002. Alaska now has the country’s highest beer tax of $1.07 per gallon. Researchers from the University of Florida studied the effects of Alaska’s increased alcohol taxes and found that it undoubtedly saves lives. After alcohol taxes were raised in 1983, alcohol-related deaths in Alaska dropped by 29 percent. When alcohol taxes were raised again in 2002, alcohol-related deaths subsequently fell another 11 percent.
The compelling evidence from Alaska should bolster existing and future efforts around the country to modernize state alcohol taxes.
Center for Science in the Public Interest, cspinet.org
“Factbook on State Beer Taxes, Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Excise Tax Rates by State, taxfoundation.org.
“Study: paying more for alcohol saves lives,” CNN.com, December 8, 2008.
“Why settle for a ‘better’ Cullman when we already have the BEST?”
September 24, 2010
- Lowers the risk of blood clots
- Lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol
- Prevents damage to the heart’s blood vessels
- Maintains a healthy blood pressure
- Raises HDL (good) cholesterol
- Lowers the risk of atherosclerosis
- Raises triglyceride levels in the blood
- Increases blood pressure
- Leads to heart failure
- Increases calorie intake and leads to obesity
- Increases the risk of developing diabetes
- Increases the risk of stroke
Glorious grape juice
by Stephanie Raymond
Acai berry juice is a good source of LDL cholesterol-lowering dietary fibre, heart-healthy fatty acids, and free-radical-fighting antioxidants.
Used in Chinese medicine for centuries, goji berry juice is an excellent source of immune-boosting vitamin C and beta carotene.
A nutritional superstar, blueberries rank high in antioxidants that may improve memory and help fight aging, cancer, and heart disease. Pure, wild blueberry juice can now be found in many health food stores.
This heart-healthy juice is rich in vitamins A, C, and E and contains antioxidants that may help prevent cholesterol buildup in the arteries.
Known for its ability to prevent and treat urinary tract infections, research is showing that cranberry juice may also promote healthy cholesterol levels, aid in stroke recovery, and even help prevent cancer.
Racing Commission props up abusive greyhound racing
September 12, 2010
New study shows 1 in 25 deaths worldwide attributable to alcohol
New study shows 1 in 25 deaths worldwide attributable to alcohol, but CAMH researcher sees glass as half full
For Release: June 26, 2009, (Toronto) Research from Canada’s own Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) featured in this week’s edition of The Lancet shows that worldwide, 1 in 25 deaths are directly attributable to alcohol consumption. This rise since 2000 is mainly due to increases in the number of women drinking.
CAMH’s Dr Jürgen Rehm and his colleagues found that alcohol-attributable disorders are among the most disabling disease categories within the global burden of disease, especially for men. And in contrast to other traditional risk factors for disease, the burden attributable to alcohol lies more with younger people than with the older population.
Dr. Rehm still takes an optimistic ‘glass half full’ response to this large and increasing alcohol-attributable burden. “Today, we know more than ever about which strategies can effectively and cost-effectively control alcohol-related harms,” Dr. Rehm said today. “Provided that our public policy makers act on these practical strategies expeditiously, we could see an enormous impact in reducing damage.”
The study showed that Europe had a high proportion of deaths related to alcohol, with 1 in 10 deaths directly attributable (up to 15% in the former Soviet Union). Average alcohol consumption in Europe in the adult population is somewhat higher than in North America: 13 standard drinks per person per week (1 standard drink = 13.6 grams of pure ethanol and corresponds to a can of beer, one glass or wine and one shot of spirits) compared to North America’s 10 to 11 standard drinks. The recent Canadian consumption rate is equivalent of almost 9 standard drinks per person per week age 15 plus, and has been going up, as has high risk drinking. Globally, the average is around 7 standard drinks per person per week (despite the fact that most of the adult population worldwide actually abstains from drinking alcohol).
Most of the deaths caused by alcohol were through injuries, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and liver cirrhosis.
“Globally, the effect of alcohol on burden of disease is about the same size as that of smoking in 2000, but it is relatively greatest in emerging economies. Global consumption is increasing, especially in the most populous countries of India and China.”
CAMH is known for its pioneering research in the most effective ways of reducing the burden of alcohol. For example, CAMH endorsed the legislative change implemented this year requiring young Ontario drivers to maintain a 0% blood alcohol content; in many jurisdictions this measure has reduced alcohol-related crashes and saved lives.
Other evidence-based policies proven to reduce harms include better controls on access to alcohol through pricing interventions and outlet density restrictions as well as more focused strategies such as violence reduction programs in licensed premises. Within health care, provision of screening and brief interventions for high risk drinkers has enormous potential to reduce the contribution of alcohol to the onset of cancer and other chronic diseases.
“There are significant social, health and economic problems caused by alcohol,” said Gail Czukar, CAMH’s executive vice-president, Policy, Education and Health Promotion. “But research gives us sound, proven interventions that governments and health providers can use to address these problems.”
To arrange an interview please contact Kirk LeMessurier, CAMH Media Relations, at 416 595 6015.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development, prevention and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues.
Playing games with Internet gambling law
By Doug Carlson - Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission - Aug 4, 2010
Internet gambling—illegal in the United States—suffered a serious blow in June as long-delayed regulations to put the squeeze on industry profiteers and consumers evading the law finally took force. The regulations are the cornerstone of a 2006 law to block U.S.-based customer transactions to offshore online gambling merchants, thereby slowing cash flow offshore to a trickle. The plan is working.
Yet some in Washington are already plotting its undoing. Congress is considering legislation that not only would repeal the law that authorized the new regulations but also would leap a frightful step further—legalize Internet gambling. The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act (H.R. 2267) sailed through the House Financial Services Committee last week in a 41-22 vote. Seven Republicans gave their approval, while four Democrats held the line in opposition.
To see how all members of the Financial Services Committee voted on H.R. 2267, click here (32 KB PDF).
Committee chairman Barney Frank’s (D-MA) bill would effectively repeal the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which passed by wide margins as part of a broader bill in the waning hours of Congress in 2006—409 to 2 in the House and with no objections in the Senate. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission ardently supported the bill.
UIGEA puts enforcement teeth to the industry that was banned under a 1961 law on wireless communication, long before the advent of the Internet. Under regulations based on the law, banks and other financial institutions are now supposed to have in place tools to block transactions between U.S.-based customer accounts and offshore gambling merchants. Those efforts would unravel under the Frank bill.
But Rep. Frank and cohorts are not interested merely in legalizing and regulating online gambling, the twin pillars of his bill. They are hoping the government will cash in with a slice of the multi-billion-dollar pie. For this reason, the Frank bill by itself serves the government minimal interest. It is only part one of a two-part act.
Act two is taxation. This is accomplished through a second bill, H.R. 4976. When Congress reconvenes in September, the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to take up committee chairman Jim McDermott’s (D-WA) bill that would tax online gambling, giving the debt-laden government—$13 trillion in the red and counting—more of Americans’ dollars to fritter away.
Their defense is simple. As long as the government keeps a watchful eye on the offshore online gambling sites, and as long as the federal coffers are swimming in a new revenue stream, then the industry is basically harmless, perhaps even good for society. But this rationalization is unfounded.
Legalizing online gambling is a predictable wager. As evidenced by countless sad testimonials, the ease and addictive power of point-and-click gambling from the privacy of a personal computer all too often yields financial ruin and broken families. Rolling the dice on Internet gambling is no game. Putting the government’s pocket book ahead of the American people’s best interests is always a losing wager. The 41 representatives who voted last week in committee to overturn the 2006 tough-on-illegal-gambling law should be held to account.
If you agree, please tell your representative that you oppose the Frank bill (H.R. 2267), the McDermott bill (H.R. 4976), and any other legislation to legalize online gambling.
To see how all members of the Financial Services Committee voted on H.R. 2267, click here (32 KB PDF).
Retired Judge Speaks Out on 21 Law – and the Debate Continues
Ron Bogle is a retired Superior Court Judge from North Carolina who recently published a column in The Herald Sun about the debate on lowering the national drinking age. Bogle provided a brief history of the 21 law as well as the recent movement to lower the drinking age led by John McCardell, currently university president in Tennessee. As Bogle’s column described, McCardell is a frequent speaker for the alcohol industry who continues to call for lowering the drinking age to 18.
The movement initiated by McCardell has actually resulted in a national discussion about the 21 law, which is probably not exactly what he intended. That’s because there is now an overwhelming amount of evidence that shows the 21 law has reduced underage drinking and saved thousands of lives. As Bogle wrote in his column: “With current medical research confirming the health dangers of teen drinking and more supportive of continuation of current law, most prevention advocates wanted this forum to inform the nation about the health, safety and behavioral realities associated with teen drinking. With those facts in his way, McCardell seems no longer interested in a national conversation.”
However, the 21 law is no longer just a national conversation here in the U.S. – it’s becoming a global discussion. This is especially ironic since McCardell and others who promote a lower drinking age often point to Europe as a model, arguing that a lower legal drinking age takes the mystery out of drinking and promotes more moderate drinking habits. The problem with this argument is that the facts show otherwise.
For example, consider what’s happening in the United Kingdom, where the legal drinking age is 18. In the U.K. Daily Mail, one British journalist recently wrote an article about returning to his home country after a lengthy assignment in the U.S. “I wasn’t expecting life in Britain to be easy to get used to again,” he wrote. “But nothing prepared me for the booze. Sometimes it seems as if everyone here is drunk.” He went on to write that drinking in English cities has led to increased crime and unsafe streets, even in small towns. “It still annoys me that my mum, during the last few years of her life, could not walk the streets of the city of Bath at night,” he wrote. “Bath, of all places! Hardly the roughest of English cities. But, at night, it was infested with enough drink-fuelled yobbishness to make it unsafe for frail folk to walk home from the cinema.”
In Scotland, the drinking culture is even worse. On average, adults in Scotland consume the equivalent of 46 bottles of vodka every year – or 12.2 liters of pure alcohol for every person over the age of 18. The number of alcohol-related deaths in Scotland has doubled in 10 years, and the country has one of the world’s fastest growing rates of alcohol-induced illnesses such as cirrhosis and chronic liver disease, according to the Scottish government. In 2008, the government published a report recommending a variety of actions to reduce the country’s alcohol problems, including raising the legal purchase age from 18 to 21 for off-premise purchases of alcohol.
The drinking age debate is also taking place in New Zealand, where the Law Commission issued a report in April 2010, calling on the government to raise the drinking age to 20. New Zealand’s legal drinking age was lowered to 18 from age 20 in 1989 – and binge drinking has steadily increased since then. The country’s alcohol-related car crashes and crime problems are increasing dramatically, with police now calling for action to raise the legal drinking age and certain communities enacting their own regulations to curb drinking-related problems.
Clearly, the facts from the United Kingdom and New Zealand show that lowering the legal drinking age does not promote a culture of moderation – in fact, research shows that lowering the drinking age increases alcohol-related harms across the board and affects kids at ever-younger ages.
As the debate continues about the legal drinking age in the U.S. and around the world, it is important to recognize arguments based on myth and learn the facts. As Ron Bogle has shown by example in his recent column, arm yourself with facts – and keep the conversation going in the right direction.
“After a decade in sober America… is everyone in Britain drunk?” by Justin Webb, U.K. Daily Mail, July 8, 2010.
“Last call for move to lower drinking age to 18,” by Ron Bogle, The Herald Sun, July 2, 2010.
“Return the drinking age to 20 – Law Commission,” by Tracy Watkins. www.stuff.co.nz, April 27, 2010.
“The statistics are clear: Higher age saves lives,” Associated Press, September 14, 2008.
“Changing Scotland’s relationship with alcohol: A discussion paper on our strategic approach,” The Scottish Government, June 2008.
Should Internet Gambling Be Legalized?
Teaching children to drink sensibly may not be sensible
The idea that parents can prevent alcohol misuse in their children by teaching them to drink responsibly at home is a popular one in many parts of Europe and elsewhere. But it may owe more to folk lore than to science, according to a new study in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
In a study of 428 Dutch families, researchers found that the more teenagers were allowed to drink at home, the more they drank outside of home as well. What is more, teenagers who drank under their parents’ watch or on their own had an elevated risk of developing alcohol-related problems. Drinking problems included trouble with school work, missed school days and getting into fights with other people, among other issues.
The findings, say the researchers, put into question the advice of some experts who recommend that parents drink with their teenage children to teach them how to drink responsibly -- with the aim of limiting their drinking outside of the home.
That advice is common in the Netherlands, where the study was conducted, but it is based more on experts’ reasoning than on scientific evidence, according to Dr Haske van der Vorst, the lead researcher on the study.
“The idea is generally based on common sense,” said van der Vorst, of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. “For example, the thinking is that if parents show good behavior -- here, moderate drinking -- then the child will copy it. Another assumption is that parents can control their child’s drinking by drinking with the child.”
But the current findings suggest that is not the case. Based on this and earlier studies, van der Vorst says, “I would advise parents to prohibit their child from drinking, in any setting or on any occasion.”
The study included 428 families with two children between the ages of 13 and 15. Parents and teens completed questionnaires on drinking habits at the outset and again one and two years later.
College Drinking - Who's Problem Is It?
That’s the gist of a presentation given by Edward Ehlinger, director and chief health officer of Boynton Health Services at the University of Minnesota. As reported in USA Today, Ehlinger spoke at the meeting about alcohol as a problem for society, not for colleges. “I don’t think the problem of alcohol is an underage problem,” he said. “It is not a college or university problem. I think alcohol is a community problem – it is a societal problem. We need to be humble about the fact we don’t know what the heck we’re doing and we need to do something different.”
Ehlinger’s comments would seem to support efforts by groups like the Amethyst Initiative and the National Social Norms Institute at the University of Virginia that advocate for lowering the U.S. legal drinking age to 18, as if legalizing drinking for 18- to 20-year-olds will suddenly make underage alcohol problems go away. What Ehlinger and these groups ignore, however, is the solid science about the biological effects of alcohol on young people’s health, causing lasting damage to the liver, brain and nervous system, not to mention the escalated risk of accidental injury and death. And as the USA Today article points out, Ehlinger did not explain why colleges frequently work with local governments and businesses to fight other health problems such as H1N1, meningitis and tobacco use, but have yet to address alcohol as a health priority.
In fairness to Ehlinger, his presentation also called for more leadership from college presidents in battling underage drinking on campus, especially public university presidents. “We have let our college presidents off the hook,” he said. “It’s a responsibility that my university president has… to meet with the governor, the state legislature and other government officials to say, ‘this is a problem.’”
While Ehlinger’s point may be well taken that underage drinking is a societal problem, he fails to admit that colleges are part of society too. Underage drinking is a difficult problem, but that should not and does not allow colleges to simply shrug off the responsibility of enforcing laws and protecting student health.
“Campus drinking: colleges’ problem or society’s?,” USA Today, June 4, 2010.
Nevada Leads Nation in Unemployment Rates
Christian Science Monitor June 21, 2010
For the first time in four years, Michigan does NOT have the highest unemployment rate in the United States. That dubious distinction now belongs to Nevada.
Unemployment at 13.6 percent is nothing to brag about, but it's better than the 14 percent in Nevada, the new No. 1 in unemployment among the states. And the trends don't look so good in Nevada.
Its labor force has been shrinking, which usually helps suppress official unemployment counts. Nevertheless, unemployment shot up compared with 13.7 percent in April.
One reason for the difference is that manufacturing tends to recover early after a recession, while services (like Nevada's big tourism and hospitality industries [a.k.a. "casino gambling enterprise"]) tend to recover later.
Nevada holds one other dubious title among the states: It has the nation's highest foreclosure rate.
Study Shows Drinking on the Rise Among Teens
After making great strides in previous decades, one study shows that teen drinking is now on the rise. The study was conducted by the Partnership for a Drug Free America among 9-12 grade students in 2009 and was released in March this year. The study’s results showed a considerable increase in students who admitted to drinking in the past month – up to 39 percent or 6.5 million students. In 2008, the number of students who reported drinking over the past month was 35 percent, or 5.8 million teens.
One newspaper in New Jersey reported on and confirmed the study’s results at local high schools such as Holmdel High School, where teachers and counselors are not surprised by the increase in drug and alcohol use in teens.
Jon Gaspich, a student assistance counselor in New Jersey’s Toms River Regional Schools District, commented on the study and his own experience in an article published in the Asbury Park Press. “Prevention and intervention were very strong in the late 1980s through the ‘90s, resulting in great strides against teen drug and alcohol use,” he said. “However in the past decade, prevention hit a plateau, and the state as a whole was riding off the efforts of the previous decades, rather than doing anything new…. Now, we’re going to see a rebound.”
Gaspich went on to say that one of the biggest problems in fighting underage drinking is that many parents downplay the dangers of alcohol versus drugs – an attitude that “it’s only alcohol.” But statistics show that alcohol is the leading cause of death among young people – a fact that needs to be communicated early and often to teens and parents.
Also noted in the article was the work of the Holmdel Youth Alliance in New Jersey, a group of concerned teens who give presentations to middle schools students to build alcohol awareness and promote a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle. The group admits that the work is challenging, but they’re enthusiastic about showing younger kids that not all teens are drinking or using drugs. Alliance member Austin Guiarino, age 16, was quoted in the article as saying, “We hope younger kids will see that there’s a group of kids who don’t do drugs and they will think, ‘if they can do it, maybe I can too.’”
“Study: More teens turn to drugs, alcohol,” app.com, May 16, 2010.
San Bernardino Bans Single Beer Sales in Response to Study
On May 3, 2010, the city of San Bernardino, California, banned single sales of beer and other alcohol products, partly in response to a research project that shows a definite link between alcohol and crime.
As reported in the San Bernardino County Sun, research conducted by Professor Robert Nash Parker at the University of California Riverside was a significant factor in the City Council’s decision. The San Bernardino County Public Health Department assisted Professor Parker in the study, which analyzed city crime data and alcohol outlets selling single-serve size beer and malt liquor. The study concluded that areas with a high availability of single-serving beer and alcoholic beverages were more likely to have higher rates of crime and violence.
In the research project’s final report, professor Park wrote, “We would expect that if alcohol from single serve containers is being immediately consumed, rates of violence would tend to be higher around retailers with higher percentages of cooler space devoted to these products.” The research findings as well as other factors reported by law enforcement prompted the San Bernardino City Council members to pass the new law banning single serve beer sales as an “urgency ordinance,” meaning it went into effect immediately. The measure also includes new penalties for alcohol sellers in the city who fail to control other public nuisances such as graffiti and loitering around their stores.
Although alcohol laws are usually determined by state government, city officials in San Bernardino see this measure as an important way to hold liquor stores accountable – while also helping to control crime and protect public health.
“Study inspires San Bernardino beer ban,” San Bernardino County Sun, May 12, 2010.
Geneva approves alcohol sales
Published: May 25, 2010
With 946 supporting the sale of alcohol in the city and 498 opposing it, Geneva Mayor Wynnton Melton said the message was clear.
“I’m shocked, to tell you the truth. I’m not shocked at all that it went wet, but I’m shocked at the margin of victory and voter participation in a one-issue election,” Melton said. “The numbers are almost at a two-to-one ratio. It’s a very distinct message sent to the leadership of the City of Geneva that people feel strongly about this.”
The vote will have some tangible benefits for the town.
With the additional money from taxes and licenses, Melton estimated the city will see between $50,000 and $100,000 of additional annual revenue.
Dothan's Country Crossing bingo casino decides not to reopen
By The Associated Press
May 26, 2010, 1:19PM
Press-Register/Bill Starling)Country Crossing owner Ronnie Gilley, seen here on Tuesday Nov. 17, 2009, says he has considered reopening Country Crossing's electronic bingo casino on Thursday but decided against it.DOTHAN -- The developer of the Country Crossing electronic bingo development in Dothan says he won't reopen immediately. Developer Ronnie Gilley had contacted employees about reopening Country Crossing on Thursday. But he announced Wednesday he's postponing it. Gilley said the owners of the electronic bingo machines at Country Crossing will not give their support because the governor's gambling task force has threatened a raid. Country Crossing's casino, restaurants and inn have been closed since late January to prevent a raid by the task force.
Alcohol and Gambling Often Go Together for a Reason!
Andy Rooney segment on 60 Minutes, May 16, 2010:
A lot of people are out of work and it turns out that when people are unemployed, they gamble less. You'd think they might gamble more but they don't. There's some good things about everything, I guess.
In 2008 the casinos earned $32.5 billion. Last year they earned only $30.7 billion. I use the words "earned" and "only" loosely but casino income was down a lousy little two billion dollars last year. It's enough to bring tears to your eyes.
It's a law for people to protect themselves by wearing seat belts for their own safety when they're in car. How come the government doesn't protect citizens from losing their money by making gambling in casinos illegal? There should be a sign in front of every casino that says "enter at your own risk...of losing your shirt."
The thing that bothers me most about gambling is that people fritter away money so they don't get to spend it on things that someone else has been paid to produce. Gambling produces nothing.
There's only so much money in the world and if it's lost at a gambling table, it's money that isn't spent on things America makes. I mean who's best for this country - a machinist at an automobile plant in Detroit or a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas?
The gambling casinos keep something like 20 percent of everything bet for themselves, so there's no chance of anyone but the casinos winning over a period of time. They make billions - and where do the billions come from? They come from all of us because we're the losers. I mean, suckers is what we are.
If I write as though I was above all this, I'm not writing right. I've gambled half a dozen times in Las Vegas and even though I know how dumb it is. I think I can win. I've never won but that doesn't stop me from thinking "maybe next time."”
Chips are down for US casinos as revenues slide
CITIZENS FOR A BETTER ALABAMA PRESS STATEMENT
House committee approves gambling bill
By George Altman
January 21, 2010, 8:30AM
Gov. Bob Riley asks Alabama Supreme Court to declare all electronic bingo illegal
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Mexico's new drug law a 'tragic surrender'
- Consumption will increase.
- Addiction will increase.
- Treatment costs for addicts will increase.
- Drug traffickers will profit.
- The law-abiding population will be demoralized."
The President's "Beer Summit" was a bad idea!
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
"What can I do to make a difference?"
Predatory Gambling, Democracy and the American Dream
Big Losers: The Casino Industry's Ideal Customers
Asst. Prof. Natasha Schull has studied gambling in Las Vegas for 15 years. Photo: Ed Quinn
Natasha Schull, who was raised in New York’s Greenwich Village, first encountered Las Vegas on the way to college, when her connecting flight was delayed there for a few hours.
“It was the most bizarre place I’d ever been. I wasn’t familiar with malls or theme parks or any of the elements that you see exemplified in Las Vegas,” she says. “I was immediately fascinated.” Schull, who has studied gambling in Las Vegas for the past 15 years, is a cultural anthropologist and assistant professor in MIT’s Program on Science, Technology, and Society. She recently wrote Machine Zone: Technology and Compulsion in Las Vegas, a book based on her research on compulsive gamblers and the engineers who design the slot machines they play. The book will be published next fall.
She also has created a documentary film, BUFFET: All You Can Eat Las Vegas, which aired recently on PBS. Her current work focuses on the social dimensions of neuroscience, specifically neuroeconomics, neuromarketing, and addiction pharmacology.
Schull says that the casino industry is building gambling machines that are increasingly effective at taking gamblers’ money. Slot machines, which now earn more than 75 percent of casino revenue, are designed to make people play longer, faster, and more intensively. “The ideal customer is someone who sits at a machine until their money is gone,” she says. “In the industry it’s called “player extinction,” and that’s the aim.
“I don’t think the gambling industry is an evil empire intentionally trying to addict people,” Schull says. “What they’re trying to do is maximize profit. But when you mix maximizing profit with the design of a human-machine interface, and then you add people who are looking for escape, it’s a perfect storm of elements to produce a situation of dependency.” Schull thinks it’s telling that we speak about problem gamblers but not problem machines, problem environments, or problem business practices.
“Since addiction is a relationship between a person and an object or activity, it makes sense to take a close look at the gambling technology — not just the gamblers.”
As Schull explains, today’s machines are much different from ones of the past. Visual graphics are now calibrated so the gamblers’ eyes won’t get tired so quickly. Sound is manipulated as well, to reduce the stress of cacophony in cavernous spaces. To facilitate faster play, today’s machines have buttons and touch-screens instead of handles and mechanical reels.
Instead of coins, they accept player credit cards. Instead of a few games per minute, it is now possible to play hundreds. Inside the machines, complicated algorithms control the odds.
“Every feature of the machines is geared to keep people playing until they’re broke.”
A STATE OF FLOW
In an effort to pull in revenue for state coffers, Massachusetts, along with several other states, including Kentucky, Illinois, and Maryland, recently had plans to license casinos, she says. “If you actually do the math, it’s not really a viable economic solution to the woes of state finance. What it offers, though, is a very tempting immediate injection of cash.”
Schull herself is not a gambler, but says she can relate to gamblers when they talk about the repetitive, absorbed relationship they enter into with the technology. “I think many of us understand what it’s like to zone out on machines.
“The experience they describe is not unlike the sense of flow people experience when they dance, paint, or write. It’s sometimes a glorious thing to be swept away by something for hours. Sometimes you come out with a wonderful product. But the gamblers don’t have a product. They emerge from the zone totally depleted — physically, mentally, and financially. They feel drained and empty. In effect, these machines exploit the very human desire to become absorbed.”
by Liz Karagianis
Glitzy Video Slots Seen as Particular Addiction Risk
Globe Staff / March 7, 2009
Among addiction specialists, video slot machines have come to be known as the "crack cocaine" of the gambling industry.
The mechanical wheels of spinning fruit used in the old one-armed bandits have gone the way of the typewriter. Modern-day slot machines are computerized sound-and-light shows so skillfully designed to keep players glued to their seats that some have been known to wear adult diapers to avoid bathroom breaks.
As state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill promotes the idea of licensing three slot parlors in Massachusetts, some mental health and gambling specialists warn that the newer machines deliver such potent gambling highs that they can be particularly addictive.
The video slots allow players to gamble incredibly rapidly, winning or losing a game every several seconds without a break, to the point that their brains are undergoing the equivalent of an intravenous drip of an intoxicating drug, said Bob Breen, director of the Rhode Island Hospital Gambling Treatment Program.
"When you sit in front of the slots, especially if it's 24/7, there are no cues for you to quit," he said. "There's no time to stop and think. You're getting that constant drip, and people describe it as being in the zone," he said.
The gaming industry defends the computerized slots, saying their widespread use has not led to increased addiction problems.
But in 15 years of clinical experience, Breen has found that gambling descends into pathology much more quickly among slots players than among people who bet on sports, races, cards, or lotteries.
It tends to take just a year, as opposed to up to five for other types of gambling, said Breen, who has published two studies that analyzed more than 200 addicted patients.
It is not only the speed of the games that makes so addictive the playing of new-style electronic gaming machines, which include video lottery and electronic poker games along with high-tech versions of traditional slots. The machines produce a highly intense and continous experience for players, said Natasha Schull, an MIT professor who has studied the machines, their designers, and their players.
There is no waiting for the horses to run or the wheel to stop spinning, she said. And the machines have been cramming more and more betting possibilities into each wagering moment, so that a nickel machine might actually allow 100 bets of a nickel at one push of the button.
"It's like playing 100 machines at once," she said.
Brain studies have shown that gambling causes the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical that spurs the desire to repeat a pleasurable behavior and that is involved in drug addiction. The pleasure comes not just from winning, but from the process of playing and anticipating a possible win.
"Worldwide evidence shows that slot machines tend to be more problematic than most other types of gambling, in terms of addiction," said Mark Griffiths professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University in England. In some European countries, he said, up to 80 or 90 percent of the calls to help lines for gambling addiction now concern slot-machine problems.
Overall, there are perhaps 30 different ways in which electronic slot machines keep players playing, Griffiths said, including their use of lights, colors, "ka-ching!" sounds, familiar television characters such as those in "The Simpsons," and rapid-fire payouts. "It's the kitchen-sink approach," he said.
One trick: Though the machines generate their winning or losing combinations randomly, they also tend to be programmed to make it look as if players have a great number of near-wins, said Roger Horbay, president of Game Planit Interactive, a Canadian company that develops educational tools to prevent problem gambling. "You get the impression your odds are good, you're about to win," he said.
Horbay, a former addiction counselor, and Breen both say that slots gamblers they have treated tend to differ from other gambling addicts, who often have preexisting psychiatric or life problems that put them at risk for addiction.
After slot machines came to Ontario, Horbay said, "what stuck out for me was that a lot of these folks had never had a problem before they met a machine."
Cahill has argued that slot machine parlors would not generate any more social problems than the resort casinos proposed last year by Governor Deval Patrick; both have a revenue model that relies heavily on slot machines. And, he says, people are gambling in other states anyway - Rhode Island has slots emporiums, and Connecticut has casinos - and bringing slots to Massachusetts would allow the state to establish a fund to treat gambling addictions.
"All we're saying is to let Massachusetts people do what they want with their money in their state, as opposed to having to drive out of state," Cahill told reporters this week. "We're not looking to exacerbate the problem, just try to capture it here in the state."
Some also dispute whether the machines are more of a problem than other forms of gambling.
"We don't believe any one activity is more addictive than any other," said Christine Reilly, executive director of the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders, which receives most of its funding from the gambling-industry-supported National Center for Responsible Gaming.
"What the research is telling us now is that addiction is a relationship between a vulnerable person and the object of addiction, which can be just about anything," she said.
She pointed out that despite the huge growth in the gambling industry in recent years, gambling addiction in the United States has remained steady at about 1 percent of the population, with an additional 2 to 3 percent having a gambling problem that falls short of full-blown addiction.
Holly Thomsen, spokeswoman for the gambling industry's leading trade group, the American Gaming Association, cited those unchanging figures, as well.
"They put the lie to the premise that these machines are causing more addictions," she said. The machines "are clearly in more locations than they've ever been, and yet the studies keep coming back the same."
Schull countered that while addiction may be relatively rare in the general population, a number of studies have found that problem gamblers generate between 30 percent and 50 percent of the revenue from machine play, indicating that the figures cited by the industry understate the addiction's impact.
The gambling industry "promotes the idea that there's a small group of people who are predisposed and the rest of us can gamble normally," she said.
But machine manufacturers aim to maximize their profits by "getting people to sit there as long as possible and gamble as intensively as possible," she said.
While they may not intend to produce addicts, Schull said, they can.
Matt Viser of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Carey Goldberg can be reached at email@example.com.
How to Stop Drunk Drivers
Ten Things the Gambling Industry Won't Tell You
Everyone knows the house has an advantage. But most casino patrons don't realize just how heavily the odds are stacked against them. Take keno, in which you pick a string of numbers, hoping to match them to what the casino randomly generates. The house advantage is at least 25%, increasing with the more numbers you pick, says John Alcamo, author of Casino Gambling Behind the Tables. The odds of hitting, say, the 10 spot — a string of 10 numbers — are nine million to one. (Getting killed by fireworks is nine times more likely.) Despite those odds, a $2 bet usually pays off at only $50,000 to $200,000. Slot machines are popular because they offer a shot at a big jackpot for little investment. For example, $3 gets you a chance at the Megabucks jackpot, which links slot machines in Nevada and builds like a state lottery from a base of $5 million. The odds of winning? Nearly 17 million to one. You have a better chance of being killed by an asteroid striking Earth.
OK, so maybe you won't win the jackpot in slots. But surely you have a decent shot of walking out ahead of the game, right? Don't count on it. "Slot machines are the biggest moneymakers in the casino," Alcamo says. "That should tell the players something." Experts like him never play games that give the house more than a 2% advantage, and quarter slots put the advantage at about 8%.
Your best bet? Blackjack. If you play perfect strategy, the house advantage is less than 1%. And in craps, the pass- and come-line bets give the house an advantage of less than 1.5%.
2. "...and if you do, we might not pay you."
While on vacation in Lake Tahoe in September 1996, Cengiz Sengel stopped to show his wife the lights of Reno, Nev. They walked into the Silver Legacy casino, got a $20 bag of quarters and headed straight to one of the slot machines. A few pulls later, three jackpot symbols popped up in the windows. The Sengels jumped up and down, hugging each other as fellow slot players rushed over to congratulate them. They had just won nearly $1.8 million. Or so they thought. A supervisor, claiming the machine had malfunctioned, denied the Sengels the payout. The couple appealed all the way to the state Supreme Court, which this June ruled against them.
Effie Freeman can sympathize. In 1995, she put $3 into a slot machine at the now — defunct Splash Casino in Tunica, Miss., and was stunned to see red, white and blue ducks line up, signaling a $1.7 million jackpot. But the state gaming commission ruled that it didn't count because the machine had gone into "tilt" mode.
Todd Westergard, a Nevada regulator, says that such decisions, no matter how cruel they sound, are only fair. It's the computers inside the machines, not what pops up in the window, that determine winners, he says, and in the Sengels' case the computer connection was disrupted.
But gamblers don't care about the technical explanations. "The main thing is that we got those three symbols," says Cengiz Sengel. "They found a way not to pay us."
3. "We promise more than we deliver."
Twenty-seven years ago only seven states had lotteries, and only Nevada allowed casinos. Now 37 states have lotteries, and 28 have casinos (including Indian gaming). Why have policy makers and the public allowed gambling to flourish? One reason is the notion that it creates jobs and commerce.
But research suggests the downside far outweighs the benefits. "The economy as a whole would be much better off had we not allowed [casino gaming] to expand," says Earl Grinols, a University of Illinois economics professor. Figuring in a broad range of factors — crime, lost productivity, bankruptcy, social services and regulatory costs — Grinols determined that each pathological and problem gambler costs the public $13,600 per year; the total works out to $180 per citizen. That more than negates the industry's economic benefit, which Grinols estimates at $50 to $70 per citizen.
Much of the income generated by casinos simply gets diverted from other local businesses, critics say. Atlantic City's a good example. Within four years of the casinos' arrival, a third of the city's retail businesses had closed. Meanwhile, crime soared.
What about lotteries? That money surely is a windfall for causes like public education, right? Not always. A study by St. Mary's College professors Patrick Pierce and Donald Miller found that while lotteries provide an initial boost to education budgets, the increases quickly taper off. In fact, the professors say, states with lotteries eventually provide less support for public education per capita than do states without them.
4. "We know everything about you."
Casinos have developed sophisticated techniques for targeting and profiling repeat gamblers. Harrah's Entertainment has led the way, hiring marketing experts and a Harvard professor. In 1997, the company began gathering details on players when it rolled out its Total Gold frequent-gambler cards (now called Total Rewards) and has built a database of 19 million customers. Players insert the cards into slot machines or hand them to casino supervisors when they play table games. The cards are marketed as a prestige item that helps players accumulate comps such as free rooms, meals and show tickets. But the real purpose is to track the habits of each customer and tailor a marketing plan that will keep players coming.
If you're a big bettor, you'll find that casinos know all kinds of creepy information — just enough to push your buttons. "You put your slot card in the machine and bing, it's ticking off in the office," says syndicated columnist Mark Pilarski, who spent 18 years working at casinos. "If you're a good customer, they send down a hostess, she pats you on your back and offers you dinner. She gets information on you. Next time you come in they ask about your wife or dog by name. They know your anniversary. They'll definitely send you a card for your birthday."
5. "We're a lousy investment."
If you don't want to bet on their games, maybe wagering on casino stocks is a good option. Think again. Though gaming stocks are up 16% this year, most haven't provided a great return over the long haul. The sector's up only 22% over the past five years, compared with the S&P 500's 171% increase.
Some stocks have been outright busts. Harrah's is trading 47% below where it was five years ago. Mandalay Resort Group is down 35%. And let's hope you didn't let your money ride on The Donald. Stock in Trump's gaming company, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts is down 78% over the past five years.
One big winner has been MGM Grand, up 36% this year. Still, analysts at Salomon Smith Barney and Lehman Brothers just downgraded their ratings on the stock from Buy to Neutral. The reason? With a recent expansion of casinos and hotel rooms, Vegas may be getting saturated. Add in competition from Indian gaming in California and the prospect of a slowing economy, and revenue could take a hit.
Gaming stocks are not for the faint of heart. Saddled with debt, many of these companies experience the kind of wild price swings that only a day trader could love. "It's a very trade-oriented sector," says Lehman Brothers analyst Stuart Linde. "It goes in a boom-or-bust cycle."
6. "Addicts keep us in business."
Does the gaming industry target addicts? "It's like asking, Does the vodka industry target alcoholics?" says Henry Lesieur, head of the Institute for Problem Gambling. "Well, they target heavy drinkers, and a certain percentage are alcoholics."
Duke professors Charles Clotfelter and Phillip Cook did a study that found that 10% of lottery players account for 68% of lottery purchases. Similarly, Illinois professor Grinols estimates that one-third to one-half of casino revenue comes from problem or pathological gamblers. "After a while [some casinos] don't want compulsive gamblers because they overrun their credit," Lesieur says. "But by then they've already made a lot of money off of them."
Perhaps more disturbing are cases where casinos allow known addicts to continue betting. After losing a million dollars, Houston businessman Joe McNeely sent a letter to several Louisiana casinos asking that they not allow him to gamble. But that didn't prevent him from losing another $2 million. McNeely then sued five casinos, claiming they continued to market to him aggressively even after they were aware of his addiction. Representatives of one casino, he says, even showed up at his mother's funeral and invited him to stop by. Though the casinos pointed out that McNeely hadn't registered with the state police, which has a self-banning system in place for addicts, they settled the suit last fall for an undisclosed amount.
7. "We target your children..."
More kids today gamble than are involved with drugs, smoking or drinking, according to Jeff Derevensky, a psychology professor at McGill University in Montreal. One reason: They're growing up with a message that wagering is acceptable. "Today's 10-year-old will spend their entire life in a world in which gambling is sanctioned and owned by the government," he says. To make matters worse, Derevensky has found that the addiction rate among youths is two to four times that of the population at large.
Though it's illegal to play the lottery if you're under 18, studies show that a high share of adolescents buy tickets — 32% in Louisiana, 34% in Texas and 35% in Connecticut. How? In some states, ticket sales aren't always monitored. Twenty-nine states use automated machines in public places such as airports and stores as one way of dispensing instant-game tickets. "You'll see that [the industry is] trying to appeal to younger people," says Laura Letson, executive director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling. Last year, for example, the council flagged the New York lottery for its marketing tie-in with Warner Bros." "Wild Wild West" — a movie rated PG-13.
It's not just lotteries that are accused of catering to kids. Pete Earley, author of "Super Casino", points to the new family-friendly atmosphere promoted in Las Vegas. (MGM Grand now has the second-largest theme park in the country.) "It's calculated," he says. "You're encouraging future generations to come there, and reinforcing that gambling is OK."
8. "...and your parents."
Five years ago an elderly woman was brought by her adult children to a geriatric clinic in Omaha. Caring for their mother after she had a stroke, the children discovered that she had rung up $35,000 on credit cards at casinos in nearby Council Bluffs, Iowa. It was the first of many similar cases for Dennis McNeilly, a psychologist at that clinic.
He began studying the effects of gambling on seniors and found that casinos tailor their marketing to attract an older crowd. The Station Casino in St. Charles, Mo., for instance, has a Golden Opportunities Club for people 55-plus, in which they can earn credits toward meals and gambling chips. The casino also offers free valet parking and $1 lunches to seniors, and some of its slot machines are based on detective stories from the '40s. Some casinos run shuttle buses from retirement homes. McNeilly found one casino that featured former stars of Lawrence Welk's TV show. The industry even has a term, "third-of-the-month club," to describe gamblers whose casino trips coincide with the arrival of Social Security checks.
"The senior population is getting destroyed by gambling," says Ed Looney, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. He cites the fact that in 1997, gamblers 60 and older accounted for 65% of the $3.7 billion Atlantic City took in. "You have a right to market your product, but there's a line you need to draw," Looney says. He points out research that shows seniors get to the crisis stage of gambling faster, and don't have the time to rebuild their finances when they get in trouble. "There's no way they can recover," he says.
9. "We have your legislators in our pocket."
At an investors' conference in June, MGM Grand Chief Financial Officer James Murren was asked about the status of the company's new temporary casino in Detroit. He acknowledged that MGM couldn't complete a permanent facility in four years, as it had promised the city. Still, he added, "There's no way in the world they're going to shut us down. We pay our gaming taxes daily."
His comments reflect just how reliant policy makers have become on casino money. And it's not just in the form of taxes. In 1998 congressional and presidential candidates received $5.7 million from the gaming industry, up from $1.1 million in 1992. Soft-money contributions jumped from $400,000 to $3.8 million.
From 1997 through 1999, the gaming industry spent $22.5 million lobbying federal lawmakers, more than such powerful contingents as alcohol and gun groups, according to political watchdog Common Cause. With that kind of spending, it would be tough to pass antigaming legislation, says William Thompson, a professor of public administration at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. "They've got the bucks, and the opposition doesn't. The casinos make contributions to every viable candidate." Adds Robert Goodman, head of the U.S.Gambling Research Institute: "Government is moving toward relationships that are problematic."
10. "Our regulation is full of loopholes."
Gaming industry officials like to say that their business is tightly regulated. But the truth is, regulators often have their hands tied. Take Indian casinos. Though they have to cooperate with the states to some extent, often tribes are left to regulate themselves. A new compact in California, for instance, leaves it unclear whether the state has the power to audit the tribes' books or inspect their slot machines.
Keeping tabs on Internet gambling is even tougher. Congress is discussing possible measures, but for now regulators can do little about the 850 foreign sites that cater to U.S. gamblers. In some countries, all that's necessary to get a license is to register. "They don't have anything like regulation," says Sue Schneider, chair of the Interactive Gaming Council.
Then there are the "cruises to nowhere," boats that depart from coastal U.S. cities and head into international water, where they offer gambling in an unregulated environment. "In a lot of cases, we aren't even sure who the entities are operating these games," says Kent Perez, Florida assistant attorney general.
Before you buy your teen a cell phone ...
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--If someone in your family has a new cell phone on their Christmas list, you might want to get to Santa before he packs his sleigh.
The latest generation of cell phones offers an expanded array of features -- some which may put your teenager at risk. New wireless technology allows users to download digital video content and other material directly from the Internet to wireless handheld devices such as the feature-rich cell phones and iPods.
These rapid advances in wireless technology and mobile entertainment prompted the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families to publish a timely and practical guide for parents: "Sex and Cell Phones: Protect Your Children."
Approximately 79 percent of all teens (17 million) have a mobile device -- a 36 percent increase since 2005, according to the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry (CITA). Most teens have a conventional cell phone, but a growing number (currently 15 percent) own a smart phone, which has capabilities far beyond those common to most phones introduced just two years ago.
While cell phones allow parents and their children to communicate more easily at any time of day, the phones are increasingly being used for less-than-wholesome activities, including the transmission and receipt of sexually explicit content.
While some advanced phones allow parents to actually locate their child using the phone's GPS chip, the devices also allow students to cheat in the classroom using texting features. School officials recognize the value of students having phones in an emergency but are concerned about the distractions offered by the newer phones' features. On many wireless phones, students can surf the Internet or watch live television while their geometry teacher explains the wonder of yet another theorem.
The Sex and Cell Phones publication warns that every child is at risk -- directly or indirectly -- because of the "sexually explicit content delivered over the Internet by computers and wireless technologies." The booklet notes, "Each day in our nation, young people are victimized by those who seek to steal their innocence and corrupt their minds."
The adult entertainment industry expects 2009 to be a breakout year for "mobile porn" as more phones come on the market with "high-quality graphics," according to a Reuters report earlier this year. The story said Apple's iPhone is ideal for viewing pornography because of its graphics and upgraded Web browser.
The Sex and Cell Phones guide encourages parents to become educated about the new technology and "engage in open and consistent discussions" with their children about safe use practices. The booklet provides a suggested "Safe Use Agreement" for parents and children to read and sign that offers a basis for developing "specific understanding and agreement" between parent and child relating to the cell phone use.
One of the booklet's most valuable features is a series of questions that parents should ask a wireless company's representative when purchasing a phone. The script includes questions about the phone's Internet accessibility and blocking and filtering options and is designed to give parents more than just a basic comprehension of the phone's capabilities.
The guide includes a table that lists parent-control features offered by each of the major cell phone carriers, including the estimated cost of the controls.
The Sex and Cell Phones resource can be downloaded from iLiveValues.com/cellphones.
Dwayne Hastings is a vice president with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
MillerCoors Agrees to Stop Selling Alcoholic Energy DrinksDecember 18, 2008
A settlement between MillerCoors and a group of state attorneys general will spell the end of the brewer's foray into marketing alcoholic energy drinks.
The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 18 that MillerCoors announced that it will stop producing and selling caffeinated alcoholic beverages, including those sold under its popular Sparks brand. At the same time, company officials maintained that the AGs allegations that the drinks were marketed to young drinkers were "inaccurate."
"Attorneys general from around the country are gravely concerned about premixed alcoholic energy drinks because these products are dangerous and look and taste like popular nonalcoholic energy drinks," said Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe. "They're popular with young people who wrongly believe that the caffeine will counteract the intoxicating effects of the alcohol."
Critics condemn youth-orinted Sparks marketing materials implying that alcoholic energy drinks allow users to stay awake longer and drink more. "It was a bad idea that never should have gotten as far as it did -- adding caffeine to sweetened, high-alcohol-content malt beverages and marketing them to young people via word-of-mouth and infantile web sites," said Steve Gardner, director of litigation for The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which sued MillerCoors earlier this year over Sparks.
"We're thrilled that MillerCoors finally got the message that they were dealing with a public-health hazard," said Pete Schulberg, communications director for the Oregon Partnership, a community-based antidrug coalition. "High caffeine with high alcohol content and the fact that these products are marketing to young people makes for a dangerous combination."
Sparks has emerged as the leading brand in the alcoholic energy drink niche market; MillerCoors said it will continue to sell a reformulated version of Sparks that does not include caffeine, taurine, guarana and ginseng.
The company also agreed to end some marketing strategies that the AGs said appeared to be aimed at underage drinking, including content on the Sparks website. David Rosenbloom, director of Join Together, said the settlement's marketing reforms are just as important as the product's reformulation.
"Removing caffeine and other stimulants from Sparks is an important step for public health because it removes a significant risk associated with the product," said Rosenbloom. "We hope that this settlement will really lead to the end of the company's efforts to sell alcopops to underage audiences with youth-oriented marketing strategies."
CSPI's Gardner said that today's settlement nearly finishes off the product category. "Now that Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors have each agreed separately to discontinue caffeinated alcoholic drinks, this entire niche of products is all but shut down," said Steve Gardner, director of litigation at CSPI. Gardner called on the remaining, smaller companies producing caffeinated alcohol beverages to quickly follow suit.
Earlier this year, Anheuser-Busch reached a settlement with CSPI and state attorneys general in which it agreed to stop producing and marketing alcoholic energy drinks.
Abstainers Working for a Better World
Article from CitizenLink (a publication of Focus on the Family)
How we vote to spend our tax dollars, what economic and social policies we hope to advance through votes for particular candidates, and what domestic and foreign policies we hope our government advances — these things are the applications of the values rooted in our Christian worldview.
Frank Pastore is a radio talk-show host heard daily on KKLA in Los Angeles.
College presidents seek debate on drinking age
The movement called the Amethyst Initiative began quietly recruiting presidents more than a year ago to provoke national debate about the drinking age.
"This is a law that is routinely evaded," said John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College in Vermont who started the organization. "It is a law that the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory."
Other prominent schools in the group include Syracuse, Tufts, Colgate, Kenyon and Morehouse.
But even before the presidents begin the public phase of their efforts, which may include publishing newspaper ads in the coming weeks, they are already facing sharp criticism.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving says lowering the drinking age would lead to more fatal car crashes. It accuses the presidents of misrepresenting science and looking for an easy way out of an inconvenient problem. MADD officials are even urging parents to think carefully about the safety of colleges whose presidents have signed on.
"It's very clear the 21-year-old drinking age will not be enforced at those campuses," said Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD.
Both sides agree alcohol abuse by college students is a huge problem.
Research has found more than 40 percent of college students reported at least one symptom of alcohol abuse or dependance. One study has estimated more than 500,000 full-time students at four-year colleges suffer injuries each year related in some way to drinking, and about 1,700 die in such accidents.
A recent Associated Press analysis of federal records found that 157 college-age people, 18 to 23, drank themselves to death from 1999 through 2005.
Moana Jagasia, a Duke University sophomore from Singapore, where the drinking age is lower, said reducing the age in the U.S. could be helpful.
"There isn't that much difference in maturity between 21 and 18," she said. "If the age is younger, you're getting exposed to it at a younger age, and you don't freak out when you get to campus."
McCardell's group takes its name from ancient Greece, where the purple gemstone amethyst was widely believed to ward off drunkenness if used in drinking vessels and jewelry. He said college students will drink no matter what, but do so more dangerously when it's illegal.
The statement the presidents have signed avoids calling explicitly for a younger drinking age. Rather, it seeks "an informed and dispassionate debate" over the issue and the federal highway law that made 21 the de facto national drinking age by denying money to any state that bucks the trend.
But the statement makes clear the signers think the current law isn't working, citing a "culture of dangerous, clandestine binge-drinking," and noting that while adults under 21 can vote and enlist in the military, they "are told they are not mature enough to have a beer." Furthermore, "by choosing to use fake IDs, students make ethical compromises that erode respect for the law."
"I'm not sure where the dialogue will lead, but it's an important topic to American families and it deserves a straightforward dialogue," said William Troutt, president of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., who has signed the statement.
But some other college administrators sharply disagree that lowering the drinking age would help. University of Miami President Donna Shalala, who served as secretary of health and human services under President Clinton, declined to sign.
"I remember college campuses when we had 18-year-old drinking ages, and I honestly believe we've made some progress," Shalala said in a telephone interview. "To just shift it back down to the high schools makes no sense at all."
McCardell claims that his experiences as a president and a parent, as well as a historian studying Prohibition, have persuaded him the drinking age isn't working.
But critics say McCardell has badly misrepresented the research by suggesting that the decision to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21 may not have saved lives.
In fact, MADD CEO Chuck Hurley said, nearly all peer-reviewed studies looking at the change showed raising the drinking age reduced drunk-driving deaths. A survey of research from the U.S. and other countries by the Centers for Disease Control and others reached the same conclusion.
McCardell cites the work of Alexander Wagenaar, a University of Florida epidemiologist and expert on how changes in the drinking age affect safety. But Wagenaar himself sides with MADD in the debate.
The college presidents "see a problem of drinking on college campuses, and they don't want to deal with it," Wagenaar said in a telephone interview. "It's really unfortunate, but the science is very clear."
Another scholar who has extensively researched college binge-drinking also criticized the presidents' initiative.
"I understand why colleges are doing it, because it splits their students, and they like to treat them all alike rather than having to card some of them. It's a nuisance to them," said Henry Wechsler of the Harvard School of Public Health.
But, "I wish these college presidents sat around and tried to work out ways to deal with the problem on their campus rather than try to eliminate the problem by defining it out of existence," he said.
Duke faced accusations of ignoring the heavy drinking that formed the backdrop of 2006 rape allegations against three lacrosse players. The rape allegations proved to be a hoax, but the alcohol-fueled party was never disputed.
Duke senior Wey Ruepten said university officials should accept the reality that students are going to drink and give them the responsibility that comes with alcohol.
"If you treat students like children, they're going to act like children," he said.
Duke President Richard Brodhead declined an interview request. But he wrote in a statement on the Amethyst Initiative's Web site that the 21-year-old drinking age "pushes drinking into hiding, heightening its risks." It also prevents school officials "from addressing drinking with students as an issue of responsible choice."
Hurley, of MADD, has a different take on the presidents.
"They're waving the white flag," he said.
Associated Press Writer Barbara Rodriguez contributed to this report from Durham, N.C.
Combat Veterans From Recent Wars Are At Increased Risk Of Alcohol-Related Problems
After returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan, younger service members and Reserve and National Guard combat personnel are more likely to begin heavy drinking, binge drinking, or other alcohol related problems. These findings are reported in a study published in the August 13 issue of JAMA.
Previous studies have suggested a strong link between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse. Additionally, several other psychological disorders are known to occur after stressful and traumatic events such as war. As alcohol is commonly used to help those cope with traumatic events, there is a high probability that military deployment is associated with increased rates of alcohol consumption or problem drinking. There have been reports from earlier conflicts that personnel have misused alcohol at high rates after deployment, but there is little information on patterns of alcohol use regarding the most current crop of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
To determine if deployment to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is linked to new-onset or changes in alcohol consumption, binge drinking behavior, or other alcohol related problems, Isabel G. Jacobson, M.P.H. (Naval Health Research Center, San Diego) and colleagues analyzed data from the Millennium Cohort Study. Baseline data were collected via questionnaires from 77,047 participants from July 2001 to July 2003, and 55,021 participants completed follow-up surveys from June 2004 to February 2006. A series of inclusion and exclusion criteria yielded a sample of 48,481 participants - 26,613 active duty and 21,868 Reserve or National Guard personnel. Of the total sample, 5,510 were deployed with combat exposures, 5,661 were deployed without combat exposures, and 37,310 did not deploy.
Jacobson and colleagues report that among Reserve or National Guard personnel who deployed with combat exposure, 8.8% developed new-onset heavy weekly drinking, 25.6% developed new-onset binge drinking, and 7.1% developed new-onset alcohol-related problems. Active-duty personnel had new-onset rates of 6.0%, 26.6%, and 4.8%, respectively. Members of the Reserve or National Guard who were deployed with combat exposure were more likely to develop all three drinking outcomes compared to their nondeployed counterparts. Specifically, these personnel with combat experience were found to be 63% more likely to experience onset of heavy weekly drinking and 63% more likely to experience alcohol-related problems than nondeployed personnel.
Deployed active-duty personnel were found to be 31% more likely than their nondeployed counterparts to develop new-onset binge drinking at follow-up. Though significantly less likely to report new-onset or changes in binge drinking or alcohol-related problems, women were found to be 1.2 times more likely to report new-onset heavy weekly drinking. In addition, the researchers found that personnel born after 1980 - younger soldiers - were at 6.7 times increased odds of new-onset binge drinking and 4.7 times increased odds of new-onset alcohol-related problems.
The authors conclude: "These results are the first to prospectively quantify changes in alcohol use in relation to recent combat deployments. Interventions should focus on at-risk groups, including Reserve/Guard personnel, younger individuals, and those with previous or existing mental health disorders. Further prospective analyses using … data [from this study group] will evaluate timing, duration, and [co-existing illnesses] of alcohol misuse and other-alcohol related problems, better defining the long-term effect of military combat deployments on these important health outcomes."
Alcohol Use and Alcohol-Related Problems Before and After Military Combat Deployment
Isabel G. Jacobson, MPH; Margaret A. K. Ryan, MD, MPH; Tomoko I. Hooper, MD, MPH; Tyler C. Smith, PhD, MS; Paul J. Amoroso, MD, MPH; Edward J. Boyko, MD, MPH; Gary D. Gackstetter, DVM, PhD, MPH; Timothy S. Wells, DVM, PhD, MPH; Nicole S. Bell, ScD, MPH
JAMA(2008). 300: pp. 663-675.
Written by: Peter M Crosta
Copyright: Medical News Today
Published by permission of Medical News Today
Getting Older, Drinking Less, Study Finds
Study subjects also were found to drink less beer and more wine as they got older, with that shift more pronounced for men than for women. Beer made up at least half of men's alcohol intake before they reached their mid-30s, but only about one-quarter by their mid-70s.
The study of residents of Framingham, Mass., included 50 years of data of 8,600 white adults, all of whom were born between 1900 and 1959 and were at least 28 years old when they began reporting in detail on their health and lifestyle habits.
The study found that heavier drinking gave way to moderate drinking as later generations' behaviors were analyzed. Yet it is uncertain as to whether these findings reflect national trends, since a study published earlier this year by different researchers suggested the opposite -- that alcoholism may be increasing among women born after 1953.
Researcher Yuqing Zhang, D.Sc., of the Boston University School of Medicine, said researchers did not attempt to determine why participants from each generation tended to drink less as they got older.
The study was published in the August 2008 issue of the American Journal of Medicine.
Calif. amend. suit claims 'prejudicial' ballot
SAN FRANCISCO (BP)--Supporters of a proposed constitutional marriage amendment in California filed suit against the state attorney general July 29, charging that a new ballot title and summary is inflammatory and could lead voters to oppose the measure.
The title and summary -- the language voters see on the ballot when entering the voting booth -- was changed recently by California Attorney General Jerry Brown. A Democrat, Brown changed the title to read, "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry" and the first sentence of the summary to read, "Changes California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry." The new ballot summary also says the amendment's fiscal impact would result in "potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars" to state and local governments over the next few years. [Click here to read the full story]
Court shakes California twice in three weeks
By Doug Carlson / June 17, 2008
Long-time California residents have experienced their share of earthquakes over the years, but perhaps they were rocked most on two days recently over the course of three weeks. These fault lines, however, ran not in the Earth’s crust but in the state’s highest court, and its citizens are still feeling the aftershocks.
The first quake came somewhat unexpectedly on May 15 as the state Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, granted homosexuals the legal right to “marry” in the Golden State, trampling underfoot the will of 61 percent of voters who approved a 2000 ballot measure on traditional marriage. [Click here to read the full story]
The Empty Promises of Casinos
Las Vegas casinos are in the midst of spending $35 billion to brighten their already blinding image. And the first thing Mississippi did after Hurricane Katrina was to make sure the Gulf Coast casinos reopened, changing all kinds of rules, including ones that let them be built on land instead of being constrained to structures floating on water.
Australia - Problem gambling a 'root cause of homelessness' (2)
By Daniel Hoare
Research has pointed to a link between problem gambling and homelessness. While the Federal Government has been quick to act on its election promise to address homelessness, there are calls for the Prime Minister to extend the action to include problem gambling. Social researchers say addiction to gambling is one of the root causes of homelessness and that Kevin Rudd needs to address it.
Mr Rudd initially went about examining homelessness with little fanfare but now that he is loudly trumpeting his intention to do something about the homeless problem, there are some who believe he should just as carefully examine one of the reasons behind it. Problem gambling has long been an area of debate in Australia, but it is an area that has not been examined closely since a Productivity Commission report in 1999. But research has pointed to a link between problem gambling and homelessness - put simply, somewhere between 15 and 20 per cent of the homeless population is there because of a gambling addiction.
Gabriela Byrne once had a costly addiction to poker machines but she now runs a service helping others with the same problem. She told ABC radio's The World Today about one of her current clients. "He worked very high up in the corporate industry. He had a beautiful home, a loving family. He lost millions of money to poker machines," she said.
His wife supported him for 15 years, close to 15 years. They're now divorced. "He, for many weeks, had to sleep in a hostel and on the streets, and now lives in a very, very small commission housing flat."
Ms Byrne says her current client is but one of many problem gamblers she has seen end up on the streets. And she is among a number of social workers and researchers calling for the Federal Government to add a wide-ranging investigation into problem gambling to its inquiry into homelessness.
Financial, family strains
Charles Livingstone, from Monash University's School of Health Sciences, says there is a link between the incidence of problem gambling and the rate of homelessness in the general community. "That's not to say that everyone who has a problem with gambling is going to become homeless," he said.
"But there's no doubt that anything which causes a dissolution of family life imposes extreme financial stress on individuals and families and so on is likely to have an impact on the rate of homelessness, and there is no doubt further that gambling falls into that category."
Dr Livingstone says an examination of problem gambling should be a high priority for Mr Rudd, given that such a study has not been carried out for nearly a decade. "If we were to re-examine the costs and benefits of gambling with ... another nine years or so of experience under our belts then we would have to start looking at a broader range of social issues than were examined in that inquiry," he said.
"These would include a more detailed understanding of the relationship between problem gambling and homelessness, between problem gambling and crime, between gambling and the break-up of families and so on."
Government inquiry needed
Dr Livingstone says there is one particular area of gambling the Federal Government needs to investigate. "There is no doubt that poker machines cause the overwhelming majority of problem gambling in Australia, and there are a number of reasons for that," he said.
"One of them is that poker machines are ubiquitous in most Australian states and territories, the only exception to that being WA where they're not allowed outside the casino.
"But in every other Australian state and territory, pokies proliferate in pubs and clubs and almost on every street corner in some places.
"So, what that means is you just can't get away from them, even if you're trying very hard not to play them, they are there and they're very hard to avoid. "
Would an age 18 minimum curb alcohol abuse?
USA Today's view: "Idea gains traction on campus, but evidence shows 21 law saves lives."
Landmark study: Change for homosexuals is possible
Walking on the “Mild” Side: The burgeoning modesty movement
CASA’s 2007 Teen Survey Reveals America’s Schools Infested with Drugs; Popular Kids at Drug-Infested Schools Much Likelier to Get Drunk and Use Drugs
New survey shows most parents support sexual-abstinence programs
The Marlboro Journal of Medicine Cartoon Series
Alan Blum, MD, Professor, Gerald Leon Wallace Endowed Chair in Family Medicine and Director of The University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society recently teamed up with Matt Bors to develop a series of satirical cartoons that poke fun at the tobacco industry and the Food & Drug Administration for their hypocrisy concerning tobacco products. The first of these cartoons, originally published in The Birmingham News in June 2007, is published below with permission from Dr. Alan Blum. It is followed by an explanation of the events and actions addressed in the cartoon.