Excise Tax: Not a Four-Letter Word

The Texas Legislature is spending the next few months grappling with a massive budget and considering thousands of pieces of legislation.

Technically, their only job is to balance our state’s multi-billion-dollar budget. (Considering thousands of pieces of legislation is “extra.”) And despite a surplus this year, many battles will be waged in Austin about where and how to cut or raise spending.

From property taxes to an increase in gas taxes, there are countless ways the state can raise money – but few of them can also claim to save the lives of Texans.

Raising the state’s alcohol excise tax can do both. The excise tax is a tax on alcohol sales that historically existed to raise revenue for public purposes and to reduce alcohol consumption and its related public health harms.

Alcohol excise taxes in Texas haven’t budged in nearly 35 years; they aren’t tied to inflation or population, so they don’t rise as inflation and population grow. As a result, they have lost more than half of their value and are considered a poorly performing revenue source for Texas – if they’re even considered at all.

However, the price of alcohol is a powerful determinant in how and how much young people drink. Increasing alcohol excise taxes is one of the single biggest steps we can take to prevent underage and risky alcohol consumption, as well as its associated consequences.

Studies show that increasing alcohol excise taxes by as little as a dime a drink would save hundreds of lives, prevent thousands of young people from binge drinking, and generate more than $700 million for Texas every year. (That would equal $1.4 billion for the current biennial budget the Legislature is balancing.)

Furthermore, 25% of alcohol excise tax revenue automatically goes toward education. Just a dime a drink increase would mean an additional $177 million for public education every year. It also means we could help provide funding many Texas schools need without having to rely as heavily on local property taxes to fill education funding gaps.

What’s even more good news is that 65% of Texans support increasing the alcohol excise tax to improve public education and safety in our state. Our Legislature can play a role in reducing underage drinking and its related problems while raising millions for Texas.

We’re asking the Legislature to consider an increase in alcohol excise taxes while they are in session, and we’ll be using our Advocacy Day as a critical platform for talking to lawmakers about the benefits of raising the excise tax in Texas.

If you haven’t signed up for Advocacy Day yet, please register today so you can join us in Austin on February 19! You’ll be able to receive training and educate lawmakers on the issues we’re tackling to help us build safe, drug-free communities for generations to come.

“Drinksgiving”

 

While Thanksgiving traditionally conjures images of turkey, football, and family, Thanksgiving Eve is giving way to a relatively new phenomenon known as “Drinksgiving.”

Also referred to as “Black Out Wednesday,” Thanksgiving Eve has become the busiest night of the year for bars. Largely driven by a rush of college students and young adults who flock home for the Thursday holiday, people will often arrive the day before and head to their local hometown bar to meet up with old friends. According to a bartender interviewed about one of the year’s “booziest” days, “People always talk about New Year’s Eve. It isn’t that big compared to that Wednesday [before Thanksgiving].”

This cultural phenomena has become so popular that it prompted the NHTSA to build a powerful campaign around it last year called “Make It to the Table: Don’t Drink and Drive this Thanksgiving Eve.”

Because Thanksgiving is the most traveled-for holiday of the year, with many families traveling more than 50 miles during the long weekend, we’re talking about countless Texans on the roads this season.

According to some sobering statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol-related crashes increase during the holidays, with alcohol-related fatalities spiking two to three times during that time as well. While the most dangerous holiday fluctuates, Thanksgiving is consistently one of the top three. From 2012 to 2016, over 800 people died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period.

At Texans Standing Tall, we know that awareness and preparedness can save lives. In our efforts to build healthier and safer communities for all, we’ll be sharing important tips on social media in the days before Thanksgiving Eve. Please “like” us on Facebook and join us this season by sharing our posts or creating your own. You can play an important role in keeping your loved ones safe and at your table this Thanksgiving.

Source: NHTSA Media

Texas Cancer Plan: Evidence-Based Policies Can Reduce Alcohol Consumption and Cancer Risk

In our most recent post, we recognized Breast Cancer Awareness Month by exploring the link between alcohol and breast cancer.

But breast cancer is just one of several types of cancer associated with alcohol consumption – head and neck, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, and colorectal cancer are among the others. And the link between alcohol and these types of cancer is not hypothetical, anecdotal, or mythical; there is strong scientific consensus since “clear patterns have emerged between alcohol consumption and the development of some cancers.”

Increasing public awareness and education about this connection can be challenging for those of us working in the field of prevention. Which is why we are inspired by a new development.

Last month, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas released their 2018 Texas Cancer Plan. The plan includes 16 goals defined as “broad and lofty” statements that will help guide the state’s action plan for cancer research, prevention, and control.

At Texans Standing Tall, we took special note of Goal #2, which focuses on increasing healthy behaviors to reduce new cases and deaths from cancer. In particular, we were pleased to see that the plan instructs Texans to “support evidence-based policies to address excessive consumption of alcohol, including limits on days of sale, hours of sale, increasing alcohol taxes and regulating alcohol outlet density.”

What is so promising to those of us at TST and our partners across the state is that the language we use every single day in our work – terms like “evidence-based policies” and “alcohol outlet density” – are being articulated in an important report like the Texas Cancer Plan.

These are not simply industry buzz words, and the Texas Cancer Plan is absolutely on target: the strategies they list are proven ways to reduce underage and excessive alcohol use – and the associated cancer risk that comes along with it. They are also critical strategies in achieving a greater mission to create healthier, safer communities; a mission that becomes more possible as these terms become part of our public discourse and policy discussions.

According to the plan, it’s estimated that 44,713 Texans will lose their lives to cancer. Yet nearly 50 percent of new cancers and death from cancers can be prevented if we take the recommended steps to reduce certain risk factors. For example, increasing the alcohol excise tax by a dime a drink would mean at least 77 fewer Texans would die from cancer every year. In addition to saving individual lives, it also means that 77 fewer families would suffer from the devastating loss of a loved one. (See chart below for estimated annual reductions in cancer mortality.)

Statewide policies that reduce access to alcohol and other cancer-causing drugs, like tobacco, will literally save lives in the long run. As the Texas Legislature prepares for its next session in January, consider joining Texans Standing Tall or your local coalition to get involved in the conversation and play a role in preventing cancer deaths.

Source: “Alcohol Attributable Cancer Deaths” addendum from The Effects of Alcohol Excise Tax Increases on Public Health and Safety in Texas

 

 

 

 

The Link Between Alcohol and Breast Cancer

In her powerful article, “Did Drinking Give Me Breast Cancer?”, Mother Jones reporter Stephanie Mencimer explores the link between alcohol and breast cancer. What she discovered may be more relevant to your kids’ experiences with underage drinking than you might think.

Diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at age 47 – 15 years younger than the median age in the U.S. –  the journalist embarked on her own personal journey that included conducting extensive research, which led her to a shocking truth she was unaware of until she was diagnosed: the link between alcohol and breast cancer, she learned, is “deadly solid.”

Alcohol causes at least seven types of cancer, but it kills more women from breast cancer than from any other.

I’m a pretty voracious reader of health news, and all of this came as a shock. I’d been told red wine was supposed to defend against heart disease, not give you cancer.

Mencimer drank in her younger years in a Mormon community in Utah, “where we distinguished ourselves from the future missionaries in the public schools with excessive drinking.” (It’s interesting to note that in Utah, Mormon women’s breast cancer rates are more than 24 percent lower than the national average.)

As an adult, though, she spent her life regularly going to the doctor for check-ups, eating right, and exercising regularly. She breastfed her children and avoided plastics, sugar, and pesticides. She had no family history of breast cancer. Still, she wrote, “not once has any doctor suggested I might face a higher cancer risk if I didn’t cut back on drinking.”

This begs the question: if educated adults dedicated to healthy lifestyles aren’t aware of the link between alcohol and breast cancer, how are our kids supposed to know about it?

Mencimer explores the potential effects of excessive alcohol at a young age in her article:

Ninety percent of alcohol consumption by underage Americans is binge drinking, defined as four or more drinks on one occasion, according to the CDC. I’ll never know for sure, but all the drinking I did in my adolescence may have helped pave the way for the cancer I got at 47.

The average age youth in Texas report drinking their first alcoholic beverage is 12.6, which is also the average age of a seventh grader.

We already know that the longer kids wait to take their first drink, the lower the odds are that they’ll develop alcohol abuse or dependence as adults. They’re also less likely to experience the negative consequences of underage drinking – things like alcohol-related car crashes, unplanned or unprotected sexual activity, physical and sexual assault, abuse of other drugs, or even death from alcohol poisoning.

These are things we should be talking to our kids about on a regular basis. But should we also be talking about reducing their risk of cancer later in life?

Absolutely.

For cancer prevention, alcohol consumption is one of largest avoidable risk factors. The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates that for every drink consumed daily, the risk of breast cancer goes up 7 percent. Moreover, 12 percent of female breast cancer diagnoses are attributable to alcohol consumption.

Our children may not be interested in percentages, and they may not fully comprehend that their future risk of cancer increases with underage drinking. But they need to know that underage drinking has consequences that extend beyond the most obvious ones like drinking and driving.

Time and time again, research tells us that parents play a critical role in their child’s decision to drink underage. Recent research out of Australia also reveals that, like adults, most young people don’t know about the link between alcohol and cancer. However, those aged 14-17 are less likely to drink if they are aware that the link exists. The report highlights the need for parents to educate their children on this kind of health issue in addition to modeling responsible drinking behaviors.

This October, we want to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the opportunity it provides to talk to our children about the C-word. As parents, we can do our part to arm them with basic knowledge so that they aren’t surprised to discover, as Mencimer was, that their choices today may affect them tomorrow.

If you’re interested in learning more about alcohol and cancer in Texas, check out the “Alcohol-Attributable Cancer Deaths” addendum from our report, The Effects of Alcohol Excise Tax Increases on Public Health and Safety in Texas.

 

 

Back to School Checklist: College Edition

If you’ve found yourself standing in your child’s unoccupied bedroom and contemplating a home gym, you might be one of the thousands of Texas parents who have sent their young adults off to college this fall.

By now, your student is settling into their new dorm room or apartment, getting used to new routines, new environments, and newfound freedom. For some students, all this new-ness can be overwhelming. Especially when you factor in the new opportunities for drinking and attending parties without adult supervision.

After all, rates of alcohol use are higher for college students than for their non-college-attending peers. And for freshman, the first six weeks of college are “the most vulnerable time for harmful and underage college drinking and alcohol-related consequences because of student expectations and social pressures at the start of the academic year.”

As a parent, you may be thinking your job is done and you’ve laid the best foundation you can. Your baby has left the nest and must now learn to fly.

But there’s much to be said (and a lot of research) about continuing to stay involved in your kids’ lives, even from afar, and how it can have an impact on their decision-making processes. And in 2018, it’s easier and more affordable than ever to check in with your kid. (Think back to when you were their age: Remember long-distance phone calls that charged by the minute? And collect calls that cost as much a biology textbook?)

Pre-college talks and regularly reaching out to your student – through email, FaceTime, Skype, or an old-fashioned phone call – can be key to helping them achieve academic success while staying safe and healthy. And a conversation doesn’t have to be a lecture about the dangers of drinking alcohol, it can truly be a conversation. (See below for a list of questions that can help you jumpstart those talks.)

Whether they’re in middle school, high school, or college, your child is never too old to continue having conversations with you about the dangers and unintended consequences of underage drinking. You might even want to consider making your position on underage drinking official. (We love this family agreement form, courtesy of SAHMSA.) It’s also important to remind your child that, despite what people may say or think, drinking isn’t the norm for all college students. In fact, a lot of them (about 40%) don’t drink at all.

Still, your student may not be affected by statistics – like the fact that more than 1,500 college students die each year because of drinking. And they may not blink if you tell them more than 1/3 of college students report binge drinking within the last month. (These are the kinds of statistics that keep parents, not kids, awake at night!)

But knowing you are concerned and interested in their lives, especially in their first year of college, can have a profound impact on their drinking behavior. And research does show that if your kids clearly know that you do not condone drinking underage, they are less likely to do it. That kind of influence will keep them safe and healthy long after they’ve flown the nest.

At Texans Standing Tall, we also care about your college student’s success! For additional resources, support, or information about our college alcohol prevention efforts, contact Tammy Peck at tpeck@texansstandingtall.org or 512.442.7501.

Drinking to Cope with Parenthood Has Reached “Meme” Status

We’ve recently noticed – and perhaps you have too – a lot of internet memes, Instagram photos, ads, merchandise, and even events that make light of drinking to deal with the challenges of parenthood. At first, we didn’t think too much of it and maybe even gave some of the jokes a little chuckle. But once we started paying attention, we really started noticing it, and it became more and more troubling. What message are we sending our kids? That they’re so bad they drive us to drink? Or that drinking is the best way to cope with stress? Take a look for yourself:


Despite mountains of research telling us drinking alcohol is not the best way to deal with stress, we continue to see a growing collection of these types of things. It made us wonder – when did the alcohol industry decide parents were the ideal target?

From sponsoring wine and beer events for moms and dads to advertising gifts on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, we’re shifting the cultural norms to something that ultimately, is not healthy for our children.

But, the more we see the social media posts, ads, t-shirts, mugs, and on and on and on, the more normal it becomes. Not only do we believe that “everyone else is drinking,” we believe it’s warranted. However, for every pretty photo of a happy hour cocktail shared on Instagram, there’s a real-life consequence to our parent drinking culture: our kids are watching, and we’re normalizing alcohol use for them, too.

We’ve shifted our cultural norms so that our kids see us treating alcohol like it’s any ol’ drink – soda, juice, coffee, tea. But it’s not. At its core, alcohol is a drug that can have severely negative consequences – especially when young people use it.

So, we don’t want to just brush this culture shift off. We want to join others in calling it out for what it is: exploitative marketing capitalizing on the difficulties of parenting.

We’re not saying parents should never relax and unwind with a glass of wine or a cold one here and there. But the fact of the matter is, parents have a huge influence over their children’s future drinking habits.

Case in point, this internet post of a child’s response to a school assignment asking them to write one sentence about a family member and draw a picture:

More often than not, our children will adopt the behaviors we model for them. If we tell our kids not to drink to fit in or deal with difficulties, but they then see us drinking to “cope with the stresses of parenting,” what message are we giving them, and what behavior are they going to copy?

Parenting is hard. It’s one of the toughest jobs in the world, and it can seem flat out overwhelming at times. Building connections and getting support from others is an important and meaningful way to strengthen our villages so we can keep our kids healthy and safe.

At the same time, it’s important for us to pay more attention to the messaging we’re being fed when it comes to parental drinking behaviors – it’s a kind of manipulation that is so pervasive, we may not even recognize it as marketing. However, being aware of it and knowing that our behavior influences the future behavior of our children might encourage more of us to scroll past that “mommy juice” meme on Facebook without giving it a “like.”

What kind of messages about parental drinking have you all seen circulating lately? Are they more pervasive with the rise of social media? What concerns do you have about this type of consumer marketing strategy? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

 

TST Working with Coalitions Across Texas

 

Summer may be a time for slowing down, but Texans Standing Tall is ramping up our work with coalitions across the state this season.

Whether we’re traveling to the Rio Grande Valley for media training or headed to Tyler for stakeholder meetings, we’re focused on reaching prevention groups and helping them achieve their missions by working together with advocates, activists, and local leaders.

In May, TST’s Research & Program Specialist Kaleigh Becker traveled to Corpus Christi and the Rio Grande Valley to meet with safety experts, lead a focus group, and collaborate with various coalitions on strategies to reduce impaired driving and underage alcohol use. Attendees also received an in-person demo of our online searchable coalitions tool, which helps individuals and organizations connect to leverage resources and enhance prevention efforts. Additionally, Strategy Specialist Anne-Shirley Schreiner and Director of Community Outreach & Education Georgianne Crowell hit the road to train local advocates, law enforcement, and youth on media and community engagement. The trainings helped the coalitions grow their efforts to address underage alcohol use in their communities.

This June, the road trips continue as we visit multiple cities – including Fort Worth, Tyler, and Waxahachie – to meet with transportation safety experts, state agencies, and university advocates on effective strategies for reducing alcohol use and impaired driving among youth. We’ll also spend some time in Hood County, training youth and adults on how to partner to create positive community change.

In July, we’ll head to to Blanco County to train coalition members on strategies for preventing youth substance use, then help them build a roadmap to success for doing just that. Later on this summer, we’ll make our way to East Texas for a controlled party dispersal training, where we’ll train local law enforcement on ways to safely and effectively break up underage drinking parties.

If you live in one of the communities mentioned above and would like to learn more about what we’ll be doing and how you can get involved when we visit your area, be sure to let us know!

Through training, education, and collaboration, we hope to significantly reduce the incidences of underage drinking – and the consequences that go along with it – in our communities. We know we are most effective when we can directly engage with local leaders and advocates who are passionate and mission-driven.

As we meet with and train coalitions throughout the state, we’re encouraged to learn that communities are excited to have additional opportunities for education and collaboration.

We know the best way to build healthier and safer communities is by exploring ways we can work hand-in-hand with groups that are committed to raising awareness, advocating for substance use prevention, and building a Texas in which alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use have no place in the lives of youth.

Are you involved in your local prevention coalition? Are you interested in learning more about working with us directly? If so, please reach out to Georgianne Crowell at gcrowell@texansstandingtall.org or 512- 442-7501. We’d love to work with you!

Coalition members in Pharr getting interviewed for the local news:

Training youth and law enforcement in Pharr:

Coalition Spotlight: IMPACT Waxahachie

Because they are among our most active coalition partners, Texans Standing Tall decided to spotlight IMPACT Waxahachie this month. Thanks for working so hard to make a difference in your community, IMPACT Waxahachie!

We took a moment to talk to Jennifer Heggland, Coalition Coordinator, and Shari Phillips, DFC Project Manager, to learn a bit more about their team and what they love about the work they do. Check it out below!

 

Examining Tobacco Inequities in Black Communities

February is a chance for us to recognize the contributions and accomplishments of so many Black Americans. At the same time, it is also important to remember that there are still obstacles to overcome. We admit, the prevention field has work to do when it comes to creating solutions that address the inequities experienced by neighborhoods with a high or concentrated Black population. These inequities are especially noticeable with the discriminatory practices of the tobacco industry that target black neighborhoods and low-income schools. It is no coincidence that black people in this country die at much higher rates than their white counterparts from smoking-related illnesses.

The tobacco industry knows exactly what it’s doing. While there have been smoking declines in both youth and adult tobacco use, the health gap endures among at-risk communities. Established research indicates that the negative health affects of smoking disproportionately affects racial minorities and tobacco marketing often targets areas with a low socioeconomic status.

The shameless targeted marketing to these communities has put an unnecessary and disproportionate amount of tobacco-related health burdens on black communities. Big tobacco has been known to donate to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as well as sponsor cultural events, and make contributions to elected officials, community organizations, and even scholarship programs. They’ve long employed blacks to work in tobacco factories as a means of supporting their families. These seeming acts of friendliness to the black community work in contrast to the amount of damage that black families suffer at the hands of the tobacco industry. Tobacco contributes to the three leading causes of death among black Americans: heart disease, cancer and stroke.

While blacks smoke less and begin smoking at a later age than whites, they ultimately have the highest incidence of death rates and shortest survival rate of any race or ethnic group for most cancers. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports that “more than 72,000 Black Americans are diagnosed with a tobacco-related cancer and more than 39,00 die from tobacco related cancer.” In fact, lung cancer kills more Black Americans than any other type of cancer.

Black youth are also disproportionately affected by exposure to secondhand smoke. Studies show that among youth ages three to 11, 68% of black children are exposed to secondhand smoke, compared to 37% of white children in the same age range. Secondhand smoke exposure is linked with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, ear infection, and more severe asthma attacks.

Prevention is key to the success of creating healthier and safer black communities. Blacks have lower cessation rates than whites because they generally have higher levels of nicotine dependence as a consequence of a preference for menthol cigarettes. Public education campaigns are generally well received and effective in decreasing the number of youth who start smoking, increasing the number of smokers who quit, and making tobacco industry marketing less effective. Research from the 2013 Tips From Former Smokers showed that in areas where the campaign was highly visible, the quit attempt among blacks was 60% higher than those areas that received a standard dose of the campaign.

Environmental prevention strategies like price increases are the most powerful anti-smoking factor for all youth, and enforcing laws that prohibit the sale of cigarettes to youth proves to be most effective in reducing smoking among black teens. However, research shows that black communities have not benefitted from the growing number of smoke-free ordinances and laws that have spread across the country. Research indicates that while white, Hispanic and Asian  communities are benefitting from the spread of comprehensive smoke-free ordinances, geographic region coupled with the lack of prevention resources available in black communities have made it so they aren’t benefitting as much from anti-tobacco campaigns. These issues contribute to the continued disproportionate exposure to secondhand smoke for black youth.

Instead of proposals by lawmakers to decrease funding for Tobacco Prevention and Control in our state, we should look at ways to increase funding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends comprehensive tobacco prevention and control programming which includes resources for populations that are disproportionately affected as well as funding of $5.98 per person. Yet, Texas’ current funding levels are at .25 cents to $2.50 a person. An increase in per person funding levels could support public health champions in black communities advocating for their health and safety. It’s time we start investing in these communities.

For more information about tobacco prevention and control efforts in our state, visit TexansStandingTall.org or contact Steve Ross at sross@texansstandingtall.org. If you are interested in bringing change to your community, the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council will host its 2017 National Conference on Tobacco or Health Ancillary Meeting on from 5 p.m. to  7 p.m. on Thursday, March 23 in Austin, Texas. For more information on the upcoming conference and the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, visit SavingBlackLives.org .

House Select Committee Releases Interim Report on Mental Health

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), people with mental health disorders are more likely to experience an alcohol or substance abuse disorder. SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that 7.9 million adults in the United States have co-occurring disorders, which are defined as the coexistence of both a mental health and substance use disorder. This number highlights how important it is for prevention specialists, parents or guardians, and our state representatives to address the relationship between mental health and alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use.

SAMHSA’s finding on the prevalence of co-occurring disorders is one of several reasons Texans Standing Tall waited with bated breath for the House Select Committee on Mental Health to present its Interim Report. In November of 2015, Texas Speaker of the House, Joe Strauss, appointed the Committee in to study all aspects of mental health in Texas, including co-occurring substance use issues, during the 84th Interim Session. Throughout 2016, the Committee met to identify barriers and existing gaps in the mental health treatment of children and adults.

The Committee’s report makes recommendations on virtually every aspect of mental health and specifically addresses early intervention and prevention in youth. The report found:

  • Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% of mental health conditions will develop by age 24.
  • Approximately 50% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a need for mental health treatment.
  • Approximately 80% of state committed youth have an addiction to alcohol or drugs.

The report also provides information on suicide rates in Texas, pointing out that 90 percent of people who die by suicide experience mental illness and one in three people who commit suicide are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, suicide continually ranks as the second or third leading cause of death of persons between the ages of 15 and 34 years old, and research shows that the availability of alcohol at home may contribute to suicide risk in adolescents. Knowing that suicide is one of the most devastating consequences associated with alcohol use and that suicide rates in Texas are increasing, it is very more important to invest in prevention and treatment measures that will help keep all of our youth safe and healthy.

With the start of the 85th Legislature on January 10, the eyes of Texas are on the state budget. A balanced budget is the only piece of legislation the state is required to pass each session. Given the 2.7% budget decrease already announced by the State Comptroller, our representatives will likely spend a lot of time looking for ways to trim the budget over the next several months. However, a major recommendation from the House Select Committee on Mental Health’s report is for the state to provide funding for services for individuals with mental health disorders. With that in mind, legislators may want to consider ways to increase state revenue rather than cutting mental health and other prevention services.

TST’s The Effects of Alcohol Excise Tax Increase on Public Health and Safety in Texas shows that just a dime per alcoholic drink can generate an additional $708 million annually for Texas. These additional funds could be used to pay for the types of services the Interim Report recommends. Additionally, a dime a drink increase has the power to save lives. TST’s report also shows that a dime a drink increase would result in 402 fewer deaths per year in our state, including 57 fewer alcohol-related suicides.

Thanks to a grant awarded to Texans Standing Tall in 2016, we were able to hire a Peer Policy Fellow to further explore how TST’s prevention work intersects with a number of critical mental health issues. Since August, our Fellow, Dr. Sachin Kamble, has been studying co-occurring disorders and examining the ways a dime a drink alcohol excise tax increase could be used to support prevention and mental health program needs. He has also been busy building relationships in the prevention, treatment, and mental health communities so that we can all work together to create safe and healthy communities for every Texan.

For more information about the positive health and safety benefits of raising alcohol excise taxes, visit TexansStandingTall.org to read the full report.