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Raise taxes, raise prices, limits sales to fight excess drinking in Wisconsin

new report from a state government panel suggests higher prices, higher taxes, and fewer places to buy alcohol are strategies to fight heavy drinking in Wisconsin.

The report from the State’s Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse says too many people in Wisconsin, both adults and young people, drink too much.

“Excessive alcohol use remains a significant threat to the health, safety, and prosperity of Wisconsin’s residents,” the report states. “Despite decreases in underage drinking, Wisconsin’s rate of underage drinking remains above the national average. … Unhealthy and dangerous drinking among Wisconsin’s adult population remains disturbingly high.”

How high?

The report says 64% of people in Wisconsin have had a drink in the past month, and 21% admit to binge drinking, which is defined as having four or more alcoholic drinks in one sitting. Both statistics are higher than the national average.

“Estimated deaths attributed to alcohol have increased each year since 2014. Most recently in 2020, there were an estimated 3,099 deaths attributed to alcohol,” the report notes. “There were 36,925 emergency room visits in 2019 due to chronic alcohol use conditions.”

The report suggests higher taxes and higher prices could keep some people from binge drinking. The SCAODA also says stopping the sale of alcohol at gas stations might help.

“The sale of alcohol and gasoline at the same location is incompatible and continues to pose a serious threat to public safety,” the authors wrote. “Municipalities that chose to allow alcohol sales where gasoline and motor fuel is sold should require the licensed premises to be narrowly written to limit where within the store alcohol can be displayed and stored, refusing to approve licensees that simply list the address.”

In all, there are 61 recommendations in the report.

“This report contains recommendations relating to identifying and addressing alcohol misuse before alcohol use disorders come into play or before behavioral and or medical interventions are needed,” the report concludes. “With nearly one-quarter of Wisconsin’s adult population meeting the federal definition of binge drinking weekly, improving the alcohol environment is important not only for adults, but for our children who grow up in this environment of overconsumption. It will improve their health, safety, and wellbeing.”

This article was originally posted on Raise taxes, raise prices, limits sales to fight excess drinking in Wisconsin

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