Tag Archives: alcohol consumption

Winebits 341: The Neo-Prohibitionists’ new study

Neo-Prohibitionist studyA roundup of the recent news from the Centers for Disease Control that excessive drinking is killing 1 in 10 working-age Americans, another scientific study in the Neo-Prohibitionist effort to stop us from drinking by scaring us to death. And where no one bothered to check this out:

? NPR’s sobering picture: The bad pun is there because, believe it or not, someone working for a major U.S. news outlet used the pun in the story. The report, written by Nancy Shute, says 1 in 6 of us binge drink, but doesn’t question one of the study’s definitions of excessive drinking: eight drinks a week for women and 15 for men. Which implies that most core wine drinkers in the U.S. are binging, including the Wine Curmudgeon. So why is two glasses of wine with dinner excessive? I expect more from NPR, which usually does better reporting than its competitors and doesn’t accept on faith whatever the government says.

? Got to have charts:The Washington Post’s Lenny Bernstein seemed quite surprised at the statistics in the study, including what he called “the eye-opening charts included in the report.” Maybe. But there were almost 15,000 homicides in the U.S. in 2012, according to the FBI, while the CDC attributed about half of those to excessive drinking. That difference is what’s eye-opening to me: That about the same number of us killed someone and weren’t drunk when we did it. Does this mean we need to regulate sobriety?

? Get rid of booze, get rid of the problem: The solution to all of this? “.. [I]ncreasing alcohol taxes, regulating alcohol outlet density, and avoiding further privatization of alcohol retail sales.” Which, of course, is exactly the aim of the NeoDrys — regulate drinking by making it more expensive, reducing the number of places where we can buy it, and keeping government involved in selling it, as in Pennsylvania. This is instead of outlawing drinking, which didn’t work the last time. That education, and not regulation is the answer seems to be beyond their understanding. Perhaps someone can explain why Pennsylvania, with some of the most restrictive liquor laws in the country, had the same death rate as Illinois, where you can buy scotch at the drug store, or Louisiana, where drinking is a tourist industry?

It’s true — Americans don’t drink much wine

The World Health Organization, which tracks alcohol-related deaths, does an annual report detailing alcohol consumption. The results are always intriguing; the 2011 report noted that "one-in-five men in the Russian Federation and neighbouring countries die due to alcohol-related causes."

The Wine Curmudgeon mentions it here because it sheds a very bright light on something that has come up quite a bit on the blog over the past couple of years. To all of the hullabaloo about the U.S. and its status as an important wine drinking country, the WHO report says, "not really." Alcohol consumption rates in the U.S. lag most of the world, and wine consumption in the U.S. lags beer and spirits consumption. In addition, says the WHO report, countries in the Americas (which would be us), had relatively stable consumption levels.

This is not marketing-driven puff designed to make everyone in the wine business feel better about themselves. These are facts from WHO, an organization that could care less about scores and toasty and oaky. So the wine business can pat itself on the back as much as it wants (which it does), but the facts show the U.S. is not a wine drinking country and doesn't appear to be heading that way. And very few people, other than me, seem bothered by this.

Best yet, there's a map of world booze consumption, courtesy of The Economist magazine (and a tip o' the Curmudgeon's fedora to Lew Perdue at Wine Industry Insight, who ran the map last week).

image from media.economist.com