Children Who Sip Alcohol More Likely to Become Teens Who Get Drunk: Study

Children who are allowed to sip alcohol are more likely to drink by the time they reach ninth grade, a new study finds.

Researchers at Brown University found children who had sipped alcohol by the time they were in sixth grade were five times more likely to have a full drink by the time they were in ninth grade, CNN reports. They were four times more likely to binge drink or get drunk, compared with teens who hadn’t sipped alcohol when they were children.

The findings appear in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Study co-author Kristina Jackson told CNN, “I think the most important thing is to make sure that children know when drinking alcohol is acceptable and when it is not.” She added, “I would say that it is advisable not to offer your child a sip of your beverage, as it may send the wrong message — younger teens and tweens may be unable to understand the difference between drinking a sip and drinking one or more drinks.”

Full story of children sipping alcohol and teen alcoholics at drugfree.org

Cigarette Taxes, Smoke-Free Policies Have Led to Drop in Smoking and Drinking: Study

A new study finds cigarette tax increases and smoke-free policies have reduced both smoking and alcohol use. The researchers found consumption of beer and hard liquor declined in states where strict anti-tobacco legislation has been passed in the past 30 years.

“The major finding is that over a 30-year time span increasing cigarette prices and strengthening smoke-free air laws has also reduced alcohol consumption per capita,” study author Melissa Krauss of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis told HealthDay. “The big message is that some very good state tobacco policies have had public health implications that go beyond what was actually intended.”

The researchers analyzed state alcohol sales, tax and shipment data from 1980 to 2009. During this period many states began to implement cigarette tax increases and smoke-free laws, the article notes. These alcohol trends were compared with state smoke-free policies and cigarette tax increases.

Full story of raise in cigarette taxes and lower numbers in smokers at drugfree.org

Heroin Easier to Buy Than Wine for Young People in Rural Pennsylvania: State Senator

It is easier for a young person in rural Pennsylvania to buy heroin than a bottle of wine, according to a new report on the heroin epidemic in the state.

“Heroin is cheaper and easier for young people to obtain than alcohol,” said State Senator Gene Yaw, Chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a joint legislative state agency. He added buying heroin can be cheaper than purchasing a six-pack of beer, Reuters reports. Yaw said a small packet of heroin costs between $5 and $10, and delivers a high that can last for four to five hours.

Overdose deaths in rural areas of the state rose from one per 100,000 people in 1990, to 13 per 100,000 in 2011, according to the report.

Full story of heroin in Pennsylvania at drugfree.org

Alcohol Ads That Say ‘Drink Responsibly’ Don’t Explain How to Do So: Study

Alcohol ads that tell people to ‘drink responsibly’ don’t explain how to do so, a new study concludes. Instead, the ads tend to glamorize the products they are selling, according to researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The researchers analyzed all alcohol ads appearing in U.S. magazines from 2008 to 2010. They found 87 percent of the ads included a message to drink responsibly, but none defined responsible drinking, or promoted not drinking in certain situations, Medical Xpress reports.

In 88 percent of cases, responsibility messages reinforced promotion of the advertised product. Many of the messages contradicted scenes shown in the ads. One vodka ad featured a photo of an open pour of alcohol, with a tagline suggesting the person in the ad had been drinking all night. In small type, the ad told readers to enjoy the product responsibly.

Full story of alcohol ad study at drugfree.org

Most People Arrested in ATF Drug Sting Operations Are Minorities, Review Finds

An investigation into drug sting operations conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) finds most people arrested are racial or ethnic minorities, according to USA Today.

ATF has more than quadrupled use of sting operations in the past 10 years, the article notes. The bureau entices suspects to rob a drug stash house that does not actually exist, in exchange for a promise of as much as $100,000. Prison sentences resulting from the sting operations can be a decade or more.

The newspaper reviewed court files and prison records, and found at least 91 percent of those arrested were racial or ethnic minorities–almost all of them black or Hispanic. That rate is much higher than among people who are arrested for violent crimes in big cities, or for other drug and gun offenses or other federal robbery.

Full story of ATF drug arrests reviews at drugfree.org