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Communities can impact alcohol use.

A new study suggests that communities that raise beer taxes could help reduce deaths due to impaired driving.

The study, published in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, examined traffic crash data from 48 states from 1975 through 2001, finding that communities that raised either the drinking age or taxes alone were home to fewer traffic fatalities among youth. However, the study also found that changing the drinking age resulted in a greater drop in traffic deaths when beer taxes were low as opposed to high, and similarly, beer taxes were more effective at impacting traffic deaths when the legal drinking age was younger than 21.

"Our findings suggest that some of the varying results across past research may simply indicate that a given public policy may not have the same effectiveness in all places and times," said William Ponicki, MA, lead author of the study and researcher at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Berkeley, Calif. "Specifically, a given policy change, such as a 10 percent beer tax increase, may not give the same 'bang for the buck' when implemented in different situations."

Another study from researchers at the institute and published in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that community participation in interventions that reduce alcohol access can result in less crime and violence. As part of the study, researchers implemented the Sacramento Neighborhood Alcohol Prevention Project in two of the city's low-income neighborhoods. The project consisted of five components: community mobilization, community awareness, alcohol server training, enforcement of underage drinking laws and enforcement of public intoxication laws. Following the project, researchers recorded a decrease in the number of assaults reported by police as well as a reduction in emergency medical calls.

For more information on either study, visit www.pire.org.
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Title Annotation:STATES IN BRIEF
Publication:The Nation's Health
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2007
Words:306
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