Good News – Bad News

About Alcohol Consumption

In the United States

Data Compiled by Teresa Kellerman June 2003

Based on American Medical Association April 2002 Report:

The Alcohol Industry: Partner or Foe?


Good News about teens:

83% of American teenagers did NOT drink any alcohol during the last month.

[SAMHSA National Household Survey on Drug Abuse 1998]


Bad News about teens:

Underage drinkers account for about 10% of  the alcohol market, or Ten Billion Dollars per year.

[Eigen, L., & Noble, J. Drinking Under Age 21: Problems and Solutions. Rockville, MD: National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, 1996]


Good News about adults:

Seven out of ten adults drank between 0 and 1 drink during the past week.

[Greenfield, T., & Rogers, J. Who drinks most of the alcohol in the U.S.?  The policy implications. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 60: 78-89, 1999.]


Bad News about adults:

Five percent of all drinkers consume 42% of all alcohol sold.

[Greenfield, T., & Rogers, J. Who drinks most of the alcohol in the U.S.?  The policy implications. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 60: 78-89, 1999.]


More Bad news:

Hazardous drinking (5 or more drinks at one sitting) accounts for more than half of the alcohol industry’s market, and more than 75% of the beer industry’s market.

[Rogers, J. & Greenfield, T. Beer drinking accounts for most of the hazardous alcohol consumption reported in the United States. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 60(6): 732-739. 1999. Greenfield, T. Consumption and risk patterns: Who buys and who pays? Paper presented at the Winter School US market. Impact.26 (14/15): 7-8, July 15/August 1, 1996. Themba, M. in the Sun, Brisbane, Australia, July 1-4, 1996 (available from the Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 1000 Hearst Ave., Suite 300, Berkeley, CA 94709).]


Bottom Line for drinkers:

Most teens and adults don’t drink, but those that do consume alcohol, do so in ways that are detrimental to their health and safety.


Bottom Line for alcohol industry:

Alcohol sales in the United States total $115 Billion every year.


According to a policy brief published by the American Medical Association, the alcohol industry engages in the following marketing strategies:

·     New alcohol products target young people in ways that could promote alcohol abuse by teens and young adults.

·     The alcohol industry spends $4 Billion every year on advertising to young people.

·     Alcohol is placed for sale in areas that are easily accessible by young people.

·     Alcoholic beverages are as inexpensive as soft drinks, alcoholic drink prices have been falling for the past 50 years.

·     Alcohol is promoted by advertising as glamorous and attractive, with an underlying message that “everybody is doing it, so should you.”

[The Alcohol Industry: Partner or Foe?, AMA Office of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse, April 2002]


A Taxing Problems with a Taxable Solution:

Research over the past 20 years shows that increasing alcohol taxes and reducing “happy hour” specials can result in substantial reduction of heavy drinking by young people.

[Wechsler, H., Kuo, M., Lee, H. & Dowdall, G. Environmental correlates of underage alcohol use and related problems of college students. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 19: 24-9, 2000.]




Full report available from American Medical Association Office of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse:  312-464-4618




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