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Surveys suggest that most Americans strongly support alcohol regulation

November 14, 2013

For the past several years, the Center for Alcohol Policy has conducted a survey of Americans about alcohol regulation.  This year, the Center again found that most Americans strongly support such regulation. The telephone survey of 1,000 adults over 21 was conducted over a three day period in the summer of 2013 by a group of non-partisan pollsters.

Despite a movement for deregulation on many issues, people seem to still appreciate that alcohol is a different sort of product that needs its own set of rules.

There is continuing support for measures that try to keep alcohol out of the hands of children. As imaging technology improves, there is more evidence of the ill effects alcohol has on the developing brain. Parts of the brain important in impulse control and delayed gratification generally finish developing in the later teen years to early twenties and are more vulnerable to alcohol’s effects. A 2006 National Institutes of Health study of 43,000 adults found that “youthful drinking is associated with an increased risk of long-term, not just acute, health consequences.” But there is cause for hope; in the 2012 Roper Report on Youth, parents continue to be the strongest influence on teens’ decisions about drinking.  Coming in first place at 73%, parents far outrank best friends, siblings, teachers and advertising images.

Long-term health effects may be another reason that people prefer moderation and support regulation that encourages it. News stories often focus on the role of over-consumption in cancer,obesity, high blood pressure, dementia, liver disease, etc. As the public has become more conscious of what they consume, the three martini lunch, as seen on Mad Men, has thankfully become a relic of the past.

Respondents may also support alcohol regulation because of the effects they’ve seen in their personal lives. A recent Gallup poll found that almost one-third of respondents said that drinking had been a cause of trouble in their families.  Perhaps that is why a large majority agreed that they want to be informed if establishments selling liquor will be opening in their neighborhoods, want laws to be enforced, would like the alcohol industry to be regulated to ensure safe products, and want individual states to be able to set their own laws.What works in North Dakota might not be optimum in New Jersey.

Very few people, even non-drinkers, support drastic measures like banning alcohol or making it difficult for adults to obtain. Most consumers find it convenient enough to buy in their communities and don’t think that having alcohol more easily available is worth the other costs to society. ::


Center for Alcohol Policy Study:

NIH study:

Roper Youth Report:

Gallup poll:

Source: Public Action Management