Keurig and Anheuser-Busch InBev Team Up For New Alcohol Product

Keurig and Anheuser-Busch InBev announced in early January that they were teaming up to create an appliance that can dispense beer, spirits, mixers, and cocktails in the home.

The companies are still researching how the product will work, but this premature announcement, without so much as a prototype, is troubling for anyone concerned with preventing youth from using alcohol.

Alcohol remains the most used substance by Texas youth. Texans Standing Tall, along with our partners, have taken to the front lines to end the normalization of alcohol for teenagers and young college students. Products like the one Keurig/Anheuser-Busch have planned and SodaStream’s in-home beer brewer (sold in European markets with plans to spread to others) make it easier for youth to access alcohol by having alcoholic beverages more readily available in the home.

These creations add to a growing list of challenges parents and prevention specialists face while working so hard to keep our communities safe. The alcohol industry’s innovative ways to appeal to youth are why Texans Standing Tall focuses on reversing the normalization of alcohol with evidence-based policies like social host ordinances. Since most youth get their alcohol from social settings, limiting youth access at parties and other social events can both reduce youth alcohol consumption and decrease the negative consequences that occur as a result. This includes things like unplanned sexual activity, sexual assault, drinking and driving, property damage, binge drinking, violence/fights, and combination drug use.

“According to the Institute of Alcohol Studies, alcohol use is the leading cause of death, disease, and disability worldwide for people aged 15-49.”

A press release on Anheuser-Busch’s website says that the North American market will be the company’s primary focus for the product. Of course, this isn’t the first time Anheuser-Bush InBev has targeted the United States with gimmicks. Remember when we reported in mid-2016 about their exploitation of American imagery and sentiment to promote their product when they temporarily renamed their beer? According to the Institute of Alcohol Studies, alcohol use is the leading cause of death, disease, and disability worldwide for people aged 15-49. This is a public health pandemic and deserves serious attention, not more gimmicks and novelty products.

The company did not specify a product name or a timeline for when it will hit a shelf near you, but Texans Standing Tall will be keeping an eye on its availability to make sure our fellow community lifeguards are prepared for addressing new threats to our youth and social access challenges. If you are concerned about underage alcohol use in your community, contact Brian Lemons or Libby Banks for more information about how a social host ordinance works and controlled party dispersal trainings.

January is Nation Birth Defects Prevention Month

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month. While there are many defects that are caused by genetics and other uncontrolled variables, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs) are 100 percent preventable.

FASD is an umbrella term used to describe birth defects that occur when alcohol is consumed during pregnancy, resulting in a range of physical and mental birth defects. The Texas Office for Prevention of Developmental Disabilities estimates that 3,800 babies are born with some form of FASD each year.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is the least common but most severe of the FASDs. However, research shows that FAS costs the US $3.6 billion dollars every year. The average cost of care for an individual is estimated around $2 million per year, but can reach as high as $4 million per year for more severe cases.

Modern research confirms what humans have suspected for centuries: alcohol has negative effects on unborn children. Greek philosopher Aristotle observed that children of drunken women were “morose and languid.” In the 1700s and 1800s, two different British surveys examined the effects of alcohol in correlation with mothers who consumed alcohol and found alcohol consumption during pregnancy affected child development. FAS was first described in the modern medical era in France in 1968, then again in the United States in 1973.

What you should know:

  1. There is no cure for FASD.
  2. The central nervous system and brain are developing throughout the entirety of the pregnancy. Any kind of alcohol intake at any time during the pregnancy can result in “hidden” birth defects.
  3. It is possible to accommodate a child born with FASD, but the effects cannot be changed.
  4. “Secondary Disabilities” like alcohol and drug abuse, mental health, school disruption, trouble with the law, and problems with employment can emerge because of FASD.
  5. FASD is 100 percent preventable.

Girls now outpace boys in alcohol consumption. Misinformation about the health risks associated with pairing alcohol with pregnancy continues to flood social media. These ever-evolving trends around alcohol use, along with budget cuts to prevention, and limited to access to healthcare are why prevention specialists must continue working to educate about the risks associated with alcohol use; the health and safety of our youth, present and future, are counting on it. There is no safe amount of any kind of alcohol to drink during pregnancy.

This year, Texans Standing Tall’s Statewide Summit will explore the effects of FASD with a presentation from national speaker, Nora Boesem. Boesem and her husband have fostered over 100 children living with FASD for the state of South Dakota and the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe. She is the founder of Roots to Wings and has given a TedX talk on FASD.

Your prevention guide to the 85th Legislature

 

 

On Jan. 10, 2017 Texas legislators convened in Austin for the start of the 85th legislative session. For the next 140 days (give or take a few), our state’s lawmaking body will work to enact laws that provide for the health and general well-being of the citizens of Texas until they meet again in 2019.

In Texas, the Legislature is only required to do one thing: pass a balanced budget for 2018-2019. Given that state officials have already asked state agencies to cut their budget requests and the State Comptroller announced a 2.7% decrease in the budget estimate on Monday, we anticipate that prevention funding will face some challenges this session. Even with limited money, legislators have made it clear that there are a number of issues they will focus on in the upcoming session. Among other things, child protective services, school finance, and mental health are all key issues that will receive attention during the 85th Legislature.

At Texans Standing Tall, we’ll be following the session to ensure we stay up-to-date on issues related to keeping our state’s youth safe and healthy. As an organization focused primarily on youth substance use prevention, there are four topics we’ll be watching closely this session:

  • Powdered Alcohol (Palcohol). Essentially, powdered alcohol is exactly what it sounds like – alcohol in powdered form. The product is concerning for a number of reasons, namely because it is the type of product that is appealing to youth (it’s described as looking like Tang or Kool-Aid) and it can be easily concealed, misused, or over consumed. More than 30 states have already banned powdered alcohol, and the American Medical Association (AMA) announced that it supports state and federal laws banning powdered alcohol in the United States because the product could “cause serious harm to minors.” The House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee held a hearing on powdered alcohol on August 23, 2016, where TST provided testimony. However, they have yet to issue a final report on the topic. TST will continue to follow what happens at the Capitol so it can educate decision makers and the public about its concerns related to the product. In the meantime, you can learn more about powdered alcohol here.

 

  • Alcohol Excise Taxes. Increasing alcohol excise taxes saves lives and raises money for the state. Excise tax funds are a significant source of revenue for governments and an area of opportunity for those facing budget deficits. In Texas, alcohol excise taxes have not been raised since 1984. And, since they’re not indexed to inflation, they have lost over half their value and are a poorly performing revenue source for the state. As seen in the table below, increasing our alcohol excise tax by as little as a dime a drink would save 402 lives, prevent more than 27,000 youth from binge drinking alcohol, and generate $708 million for Texas every year. With budget restrictions posing a potential problem to funding critical programs across the state (especially those related to education, health care, mental health, and child protective services), it’s important to consider different viable options for increasing revenue in the state. You can learn more about the positive public health impacts of raising the alcohol excise tax by reading our full report on the topic here.
  • Raising the Legal Purchase Age of Tobacco to 21. Across the country, numerous cities and two states (Hawaii and California) have passed ordinances to raise the legal minimum age for sale of all tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21. In 2015, the Institute of Medicine released a report detailing the potential public health benefits of enacting a nationwide Tobacco 21 policy. Among the remarkable results was a 25% drop in youth smoking initiation, a 12% drop in overall smoking rates, and 16,000 cases of preterm birth and low birth weight averted in the first 5 years of the policy; the impacts would be recognized immediately. Their conservative estimate is that if age 21 were adopted throughout the U.S., it would prevent 4.2 million years of life lost to smoking in youth alive today. Visit org for more information on the issue.
  • Tobacco Prevention and Control Funding. As it stands, Texas spends only 3.9% of the $268 million the CDC recommends it spend on tobacco prevention. However, with possible budget shortfalls on the horizon, even that 3.9% is at risk. Currently, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) funds 12 counties in the state to implement comprehensive, community-based tobacco prevention and control. As a result, these Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalitions (TPCCs) have been able to create change by mobilizing local citizens to help pass smoke-free ordinances in their communities, educating youth on the harms of smoking, and helping current smokers quit through education on and referrals to the Quitline. Maintaining or increasing this funding is critical to improving the health of all Texas citizens and helping our youth become the generation to “Finish It.”

On Feb. 28, 2017 Texans Standing Tall is hosting an Advocacy Day in Austin, Texas. Youth and adult prevention advocates from across the state to unite at the Texas Capitol and raise awareness on various issues pertaining to prevention and public health. We hope you’ll join us to help be a strong voice for prevention! To learn more and register for the event, click here.

 

 

 

Prevent Risky Behavior This Holiday Season

As finals put a bow on the fall semester, high school and college students are beginning to make plans to get together for parties or reunions as friends gather back home. With time on their hands and a festive season, there are many opportunities for the dangers of alcohol use to jingle all the way into their young lives. Along with the holiday gatherings comes the frightful increase of alcohol-fueled risky behavior like unwanted or unplanned sex, fights including alcohol-related car crashes. With the semester ending, now is an extremely important time to discuss the dangers of drinking and driving with the youth in your life.

Many parents believe allowing their children and their children’s friends to consume alcohol under their roof encourages healthier attitudes toward alcohol, but in truth, alcohol consumption by underage youth increases the risks of unwanted or unplanned sex, fights, homicides, and suicides. Parents also believe that taking the keys away from youth will prevent them from drinking and driving, but they may not be aware that youth are more likely to binge drink outside of the home when parents allow alcohol consumption in the home. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drivers ages 16-20 are 17 times more likely to die in a car crash when they have a high blood alcohol concentration compared to when they have not been drinking. The CDC also reports that the chances for alcohol abuse increases when people begin drinking in their teenage years and The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports that 90 percent of addictions begin in the teenage years.

Modeling good decision-making with alcohol is an effective approach to preventing your teens from making risky choices. Parents should also consider a “rules of the road” contract with their youth. Studies show that the children of parents who establish and enforce rules around alcohol make positive decisions when it comes to drinking and driving.

A good way to lead any conversation with youth is to remind them of the Zero Tolerance Laws in Texas, which makes it illegal to consume alcohol under the age of 21. It does not matter if the substance is provided by a friend’s parent, it is still illegal in the state of Texas.

Texans Standing Tall is a resource for coalitions and communities across the state working to address youth social access to alcohol. A long-term, community-based solution that TST educates about and promotes is a strategy called a civil social host ordinance. A civil social host ordinance is a city ordinance that holds people accountable for providing the location for underage drinking parties. Our partners at Circles of San Antonio are working toward a healthier and safer community through a social host ordinance. The city of El Paso recently passed such an ordinance. We are hoping to see many more around our state.

If you are interested in learning more about how a civil social host ordinance works:

  • visit our website
  • contact TST’s Strategy Specialist Brian Lemons
  • contact Community Mobilization Coordinator Libby Banks.