September 4, 2009

Low Prices, Higher Alcohol Levels

Typical college bars surround universities across the nation, catering to a student's low bank account with nightly drink specials. A new study reveals lower alcohol prices lead to higher intoxication levels among students.

College drinking affects more than student's GPA. Fighting, drunk driving, sexual victimization, injury and even death can result from college-aged binge drinking. Just under 2,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related injuries, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and more than two million students report driving under the influence of alcohol each year. Researchers place some of the blame on cheap alcohol prices at college bars.

In the study of 804 college students leaving seven bars near universities, researchers conducted anonymous interviews and recorded breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) readings. They found for each $1.40 price increase on the average drink, students were 30 percent less likely to leave the bar with a BrAC above .08, the legal limit for driving.

Authors focused on the college bar scene. "Young adults are more sensitive to alcohol price changes than older populations who generally have more disposable income," Ryan J. O'Mara, graduate research fellow at the University of Florida and corresponding author of the study was quoted as saying. He is skeptical bar owners will voluntarily raise their drink prices. He suspects "their primary aim is to generate revenue, which unfortunately conflicts with protecting public health and safety."

SOURCE: Alcoholism, Clinical & Experimental Research, November 2009