Regardless of how they vote, Coloradoans should be aware of the widespread public health implications associated with increased access to alcohol.
In discussing the economic impact of Propositions 124, 125, and 126, few, if any, experts have discussed the impact of passing these bills on Colorado’s public health.
In summary, Proposition 124 allows retail liquor stores to apply and, if approved, increase the number of locations where they sell alcohol. Proposition 125 allows grocery stores and convenience stores that sell beer to also sell wine. Proposition 126 allows third-party delivery of alcohol from grocery stores, liquor stores, convenience stores, bars, and restaurants.
Passage of these bills will increase access to alcohol in Coloradans. Although most Coloradoans consume alcohol responsibly, data show that alcohol availability and excessive alcohol use in the community It shows that there is a strong correlation between
Excessive drinking is defined as binge drinking (4 or more drinks per session for women and 5 or more drinks for men), heavy drinking (8 or more drinks per week for women, 15 or more drinks per week for men), and under 21 years of age. drinking alcohol, or drinking pregnant women.
Excessive alcohol use is a public health problem that causes approximately 88,000 deaths annually nationwide, including 10% of deaths among adults aged 20 to 64. Alcohol consumption ranks as the fourth leading preventable cause of death, after tobacco, poor diet and lack of physical activity. Colorado’s rate of excessive drinking is his eighth highest of all states, and its alcohol-related death rate is her sixth highest.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol-related deaths in Denver increased nearly 30% in 2020 compared to 2019. The prevalence of alcohol use disorders among Colorado residents is he more than 50% higher than the national average. Colorado has a public health problem with alcohol.
Just to be clear, we enjoy alcoholic beverages. We do not aim to condemn responsible alcohol use or review failed prohibition policies. We recognize the important role alcohol plays in Colorado’s economy and culture. , thanks to the jobs and tourism generated by the state’s breweries, vineyards and distilleries.
But this is not about economy or culture. This is about public health. Data show that sanitation and alcohol don’t mix well.
Public health experts recommend several measures to reduce the incidence and public health impact of excessive alcohol use. Most of it has to do with restricting access to alcohol. Several proposed community-based interventions have been shown to be ineffective in preventing excessive alcohol use. For example, training programs for responsible drinking services lack sufficient evidence to recommend or oppose their use at population health levels.
Other interventions have been shown to exacerbate excessive alcohol use and actively discourage it. One such intervention is the privatization of retail alcohol sales in situations where the government controls retail sales. This increases alcohol consumption per person. In contrast, practices such as raising alcohol taxes, limiting days and hours of alcohol sales, and regulating the density of alcohol outlets have all been shown to reduce excessive alcohol use and its downstream effects in communities. I’m here.
These guidelines were developed by a bipartisan Community Prevention Services Task Force of public health experts from across the country convened by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve community prevention services, programs, and population health. other interventions aimed at
The task force has incorporated both public health impact and cost-effectiveness into its recommendations, which are published in a free online community guide. Its agenda is to use science to promote healthy communities. Science shows that increased access to alcohol increases alcohol overdose, and alcohol overdose causes even more problems.
This is a topic that has not been extensively discussed, if at all, to inform decisions at the ballot box. From a public health perspective, increased access to alcohol is generally associated with adverse public health consequences. This is not a moral or political stance. This is what the evidence shows. Given Colorado’s current relationship with alcohol, enacting these proposals to increase access could exacerbate the public health outcomes associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
The public health implications of passing these proposals won’t be the only factor to consider at the ballot box this November. Still, it must be considered in addition to the social, economic and cultural forces driving policy change.
D. Tyler Coyle, MD, MS, of Denver is certified in both preventive medicine and addiction medicine.
Thomas Locke, MD of Denver is a resident in preventive medicine.