The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report claims that teens prefer bourbon, rum, scotch, whiskey, and vodka to beer. Why should you care? Regulators and policy makers use the statistics to develop beverage-specific measures to combat underage drinking, “including increasing alcohol excise taxes and increasing restrictions on the distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages.” The CDC studied high schoolers in Nebraska, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Wyoming, and found the following:
In all four states, liquor was the most prevalent type of alcoholic beverage usually consumed among students who reported current alcohol use, ranging from 34.1% in Nebraska to 44.7% in Arkansas. The second most prevalent type of alcohol usually consumed was either beer or malt beverages (beer in Nebraska, malt beverages in Arkansas, and beer and malt beverages nearly equally in New Mexico and Wyoming). Wine was the least prevalent type of alcohol usually consumed in all four states, ranging from 1.6% in Arkansas and Wyoming to 3.1% in New Mexico.
The CDC has two common-sense explanations for liquor’s popularity: it gets teens drunk faster, and it can be mixed with “other beverages such as soft drinks.”
The Center for Science in the Public Interest disagrees with the CDC’s conclusions and believes liquor’s popularity can be chalked up to clever marketing:
Think of the dull amber, brown, and clear bottles in liquor stores of yesterday and compare that to the bright pinks, neon blues, and girly greens that characterize hard liquor today. Today’s infantilized liquors are flavored with peach, raspberry, mango, cherry, grape and every other kid-friendly flavor under the sun: Hypnotiq. Smirnoff Blueberry. DeKuyper Pineapple Coconut, Sour Apple, or Tropical Mango schnapps. Pink Grapefruit flavored Hiram Walker? Please.
Which argument regulators accept will make the difference between higher sin taxes or tightened restrictions on advertising. What do you think? Are teens after efficiency or pretty colors?
Types of Alcoholic Beverages Usually Consumed by Students in 9th–12th Grades — Four States, 2005 [CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report via the CSPI]
(Photo: jenerally speaking)