Alcohol Abuse

May 15, 2020 • Volume 30, Issue 19
Should taxes and regulations on alcoholic beverages be increased?
By Christina L. Lyons


Americans have been drinking more alcohol in recent decades, and the number who died from alcohol-related causes doubled between 1999 and 2017 to more than 72,000. Currently, 14.5 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder. Scientists correlate alcohol abuse with several acute and chronic maladies, domestic violence, vehicle accidents, crime and a rising number of “deaths of despair” in America. Experts fear more people may abuse alcohol during the coronavirus pandemic. Researchers disagree, however, on whether drinking low or moderate amounts of alcohol damages one's health. Meanwhile, many researchers and health officials say regulations should limit adolescents’ exposure to alcohol advertising, especially on social media, and alcohol taxes should be raised to discourage drinking. Others, including libertarians and industry representatives, say stricter ad regulations or higher taxes would not reduce drinking among those who drink heavily, and that doctors should do more to diagnose alcohol abuse earlier.

Photo of two people in a restaurant in Denver, Colorado, in 2019. (Getty Images/Media News Group/The Denver Post/Helen H. Richardson)
Two patrons raise their glasses in a Denver restaurant in 2019. Americans have been drinking more in recent years, leading some public health experts to question whether alcohol taxes should be raised to discourage drinking. (Getty Images/Media News Group/The Denver Post/Helen H. Richardson)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 15, 2020  Alcohol Abuse
Jun. 08, 2012  Alcohol Abuse
Sep. 07, 1990  Dealing with the Dangers of Alcohol
Dec. 26, 1973  Resurgence of Alcoholism
Nov. 17, 1965  Treatment of Alcoholism
Mar. 22, 1949  Alcoholism
Consumer Behavior
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Infectious Diseases
Medical Research and Advocacy
Motor Traffic Safety
Popular Culture
Regulation and Deregulation
Substance Abuse