Excessive consumption of alcohol is among the top causes of preventable deaths in the U.S. and undoubtedly it has been a risk for numerous societal and health problems. An estimate reveals that the economic cost of excessive consumption of alcohol was 223.5 billion USD in 2006 (Bouchery et al. 2011). Excessive consumption of alcohol is classified as any drinking by underage youth or pregnant women or any form of heavy drinking and binge drinking. A comprehensive preventive policy is required to be implemented through a public health ordinance which may result in generating positive outcomes to the community by reducing consumption of alcohol (NSDUH, 2002).
Public Health Problem
Excessive consumption of alcohol is a recurring public health problem that resulted in loss of many lives in the United States. Around 80,000 deaths are caused every year in the United States due to excessive intake of alcohol which renders the excessive alcohol consumption as the third major reason of causing preventive deaths. Due to over drinking of alcohol the potential loss of life is 2.3 mn years annually or around thirty years of potential loss of life for every death. This health issue also results in additional medic care and expense as the statistics reveal that more than one million emergency room visits while around 3 million visits of physician visits occurred due to excessive alcohol drinking in 2006 which made a total economic cost of 223 bn USD in the same year (CDC). There are many immediate health risks of excessive consumption of alcohol which mostly include injuries, road accidents, violent sexual behavior, violence with partner, maltreatment with children, miscarriages, still births and alcohol poisoning while the long term effects are psychiatric problems, social problems, cancer, neurological problems, etc. According to heath experts, young under age of 21 should not drink while the alcohol consumption of this age group is alarming which needs to be addressed to avoid health as well as societal problems (Bouchery et al. 2011).
Significance of the Issue
It is quite important for the health of individuals to refrain from consuming alcohol beyond safe level prescribed for a day to reduce the risk of short term and long term effects of the excessive drinking. Alcohol has different effects on different people while safe level for drinking cannot be determined for everyone, however moderating the alcohol consumption is significant for maintaining good health. It is also found that alcohol is most injurious to people below age of 21 and pregnant women as the effects may cause a long lasting ailment. More than one third of the people in the U.S. have reported that alcohol caused problems in their families. Also, many people face legal as well as financial problems due to consumption of alcohol (Newport, 1999). The bad effects of excessive alcohol consumption also leaves negative impact on various other aspects of life like education, relationship, societal ethical norms, etc. Therefore the need is to formulate a legal document to have a provision in the law to ensure the reduction in alcohol abuse in the U.S (Bouchery et al. 2011).
According to NSDUH (2002), 50 percent of the people aged from 12 to 14, 65 percent of the people aged from 15 to 17 and 72 percent of people aged 18 to 20 consumed excessive alcohols. The statistics are obvious about the fact excessive consumption of alcohol is top among the age group below 21, thus the malicious effect of excessive drinking is also observed in the same age group. Pregnant women also have a high risk of health due to excessive drinking and the ratio of alcohol abuse is also very high among them (Dawson and Grant, 2005). Thus the intended audience for the health ordinance is comprised of two chunks of the U.S. society i.e. aged below 21 and the pregnant ladies. The aim of local health ordinance will be to formulate and develop a mechanism to reduce alcohol abuse by legal means especially the underage group and pregnant ladies will be targeted to safeguard the community at maximum from the maliciousness of excessive alcohol consumption.
From the above discussion, it is determined that the excessive alcohol consumption is a significant public health problem and the major victims of the health problem are people below age of 21 or pregnant women who suffer severely from the alcohol abuse. In the light of researched evidences, following local health ordinance in proposed to overcome the health problem:
Minimum Purchase Age Law
The law to restrict purchase on the minimum age needs to be enforced so that no minor may be able to purchase the alcohol directly. Although people may have social availability of alcohol but this enforcement will decrease the alcohol abuse a great deal among the people below 21 years of age.
Tax also needs to be enforced over the alcohol to reduce the consumption to general audience by enhancing the price of alcohol. Usually people below age of 21 are not financially independent which will result in lowering the consumption and ultimately lowering the alcohol abuse.
Controlled Promotion and Advertisement
Promotion and advertisement needs to be controlled so that the young people should not be tempted to alcohol consumption. Also, the advertisements regarding the excessive drinking must also be placed to raise awareness among general masses.
Regulation of Density of Alcohol Outlet
Density of alcohol outlets must also be regularized especially for the young and pregnant women that will impact in lowering the alcohol abuse directly over the intended audience.
Maintaining Limits on Hours and Days of Sales
The limit of selling in particular days and hours of the day must be maintained so that the excessive drinking may be reduced.
Women Health Care
Pregnant women should be given additional care and awareness about the negative outcomes of excessive drinking and the safe drinking level should also be made known to them through women health care.
Consequently, the need for local health ordinance regarding preventing excessive consumption of alcohol is quite necessary to take preventive measures to ensure health of the community. People aged below 21 and pregnant women must be given priority in the matter to reduce the impact of excessive drinking at maximum.
Bouchery et al. (2006) Economic Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption in the U.S.,
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI). Atlanta, GA: CDC.
Dawson, D.and Grant, B. (2005) LI T-K. Quantifying the risks associated with exceeding recommended drinking limits. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 29:902–908
Mokdad A. (2000) Marks JS, Stroup DF, Gerberding JL. Actual causes of death in the United States, JAMA 2004;291(10):1238–1245.