Tougher Liquor Laws on the Horizon?
Alcohol and Crime Linked | Lawmakers take notice…
Often a rise in addiction rates for a specific drug like crack or heroin is connected to an increase in crime. The result? A crackdown on that particular drug, usually in the form of stricter distribution and possession regulations. With increased news coverage that connects alcohol to deadly accidents and violent crime, a new study suggests that stricter laws controlling the distribution and possession of alcohol may create a path to tougher liquor laws on the horizon.
The Effect of Alcohol on Accidents
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, about 33 percent of all deaths and violent crimes are touched by alcohol abuse in some way. However, according to the authors of the study published in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, the role of alcohol in these events is not always reported by the media.
Michael D. Slater is a study author from Ohio State University in Columbus. He said in a journal news release: “People have some awareness of the social cost that alcohol can have, but only a small fraction of news stories on violent crime and non-motor vehicle accidents acknowledge the contributing role of alcohol.”
Since there isn’t a widespread awareness of the impact of alcohol in accidents and violence that don’t happen on the road, there may not be much support for a stricter enforcement of current alcohol laws like the ban on underage drinking or the law against selling alcohol to visibly drunk customers.
The study surveyed almost 800 adults, finding that those who read news stories that mentioned the involvement of alcohol in non-car, alcohol-related accidents were more likely to support legislation that was tougher on alcohol.
Said Slater: “I think this buttresses the idea that media coverage does matter. Alcohol, as a public-health issue, is not as front and center as it might be if there were more news coverage.”
Getting the Word Out
It’s not an easy thing to influence how the media portrays events, and few who are involved in the accidents are concerned with publicity and how the incident is viewed, with the possible exception of the surviving victims and the victims’ families. What are some other options that may help to reveal just how damaging alcohol can be? Perhaps commercials, workshops in the schools and other governmental organizations, booths at fairs and other community events would help. What do you think? Do you see the need for tougher liquor laws on the near horizon? How can we help people to recognize the effects of alcohol and alcohol abuse, and help those who need it to get help to quit drinking?
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