Editorial: Responsible consumption is the key

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006

The Albert Lea Tribune launched a four-part series Tuesday on alcohol. The series will appear every Tuesday in April, which is Alcohol Awareness Month.

Yes, every month seems to have themes and some of them get fairly ridiculous. It&8217;s also National Pecan Month, but we don&8217;t plan on writing stories on how pecans impact our lives. This week is Straw Hat Week. Most of these monthlong and weeklong themes are mere stunts to attract media attention.

We decided a series on alcohol awareness, however, was apt, considering the sheer daily impact on our lives. This was a subject readers deserved to know more about.

Consider these statistics from a national drug-rehabilitation organization:

– Alcohol is involved in 50 percent of driving fatalities.

– More than 15 million Americans are dependent on alcohol, and 500,000 are between the age of 9 and 12.

– Each year, a typical teenager or young adult in the United States is inundated with more than 1,000 commercials for beer and other alcoholic beverages. That doesn&8217;t include the thousands of drinking incidents in films and TV programs themselves.

– Americans spend over $90 billion on alcohol each year.

– The undeveloped liver of unborn babies can only burn alcohol at half the rate of pregnant mothers, so alcohol stays in the systems of fetuses twice as long.

– Each year, students spend $5.5 billion on alcohol. That&8217;s more than they spend on soft drinks, tea, milk, juice, coffee and books combined.

– Up to 40 percent of all industrial fatalities and 47 percent of industrial injuries can be linked to alcohol consumption and alcoholism.

– Four in 10 criminal offenders report alcohol as a factor in violence.

Drinking can be a relaxing way to unwind. It has been a factor in many positive social situations in our lives, from weddings to barbecues. We don&8217;t oppose the consumption of alcohol.

But we do support responsible consumption of alcohol. And we also feel that the more you know, the better off you are.

We hope you enjoy the series.