Letters to the Editor

Gazette columnist promotes dangerous alcohol policies

In Sunday May 24’s column, Adam Sullivan makes a dangerous and misinformed argument for relaxing alcohol control measures. While most adults who choose to drink alcohol do so in ways that are low-risk, Iowa is a heavy drinking state. We regularly see an alarming number of Iowans drinking too much and too frequently. In fact, Iowa consistently ranks above the national average of binge drinkers (23 percent versus 16 percent in the past year).

Alcohol exerts considerable harms, such as individual intoxication and impairment, car crashes and violence that can affect nondrinkers, and long-term health problems like greater likelihood of some cancers, stroke and hypertension. In fact, the latest available estimates show 775 alcohol-attributable deaths and $1.9 billion in drinking-related costs each year in Iowa. That is a substantial toll of drinking-related harms.

During the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen the value of thinking about the health of the population at-large and the importance of making decisions based on scientifically accurate information. Sound alcohol control policy protects all Iowans, including nondrinkers, while imposing negligible inconvenience on those who choose to drink.

Let’s not use the current situation to further undermine the health of Iowa.

Paul Gilbert

Assistant Professor

UI College of Public Health

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