WASHINGTON, DC — During the month of April, the Beer Institute will recognize Alcohol Awareness Month and the significant progress being made in reducing drunk driving and underage drinking with the support of major brewers and beer importers.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drunk-driving fatalities have decreased 51 percent since 1982 and 21 percent over the past five years. Brewers and beer importers are committed to ending this preventable issue, and invest in a host of community-level programs to promote safe rides home, designated drivers and responsible drinking.
Further, the federal government’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows record low levels of underage drinking among 12-17 year-olds. The Beer Institute applauded the record lows as evidence that efforts to discourage underage drinking are working, but noted that much more work remains to be done.
“Brewers and beer importers are deeply committed to responsibility. We invest in programs that encourage responsible consumption, and help keep beer out of the hands of underage consumers,” said Chris Thorne, Beer Institute Vice President of Communications. “Especially as students look forward to prom and graduation celebrations, we encourage parents to talk with their kids about alcohol use. You have the greatest influence on your child’s drinking decisions.”
While the historical trends point to record low rates of alcohol misuse, Thorne said that major brewers will continue investing toward the goal of reducing misuse to zero. Most adults who drink do so responsibly. And health research shows that moderate beer consumption is associated with a variety of potential health benefits including stronger bones, decreased risk of heart disease and reduction in stroke occurrence.
“Beer is the one drink with a consistent and customary portion—typically a 12 oz. can or bottle—and more than 90 percent of beer sold is 4.6 percent Alcohol By Volume (ABV) or less. You can’t over pour a beer, which makes it the perfect choice for those who choose to moderate their consumption. Consumed responsibly, beer brings people together, and it is no wonder that beer’s the top choice at celebrations and occasions across America,” Thorne noted.
Specific responsibility efforts being made by brewers and beer importers include:
- More than 30 years ago, Anheuser-Busch launched its first alcohol responsibility campaign, “Know When to Say When.” Since 1990, the Anheuser-Busch Family Talk About Drinking program has helped parents talk with their children about underage drinking, and today offers a parent guide on Facebook to help match parenting styles with the cognitive development of children. Through the company’s WE I.D. program, Anheuser-Busch and its nationwide network of wholesalers have distributed tools to help hundreds of thousands of retail accounts serve and sell alcohol responsibly, and post signage to remind consumers they will be asked to show a valid I.D. to purchase alcohol. The in-stadium Budweiser/Bud Light Good Sport designated-driver program has been implemented with 98 professional sports teams with in-game messages and promotions to reward and encourage adults 21 and up to pledge to be a designated driver. Through innovative programming, Bud Light continues to bring alcohol responsibility to the forefront. In 2013, the free Bud Light Taxi app launched to help adults connect, with one button, to a local cab company. In January 2014, Bud Light gave away 4,800 safe rides home in 48 hours with the help of a popular ride-sharing service. On September 19, 2014, Anheuser-Busch employees and wholesalers will celebrate the fifth annual Global Be(er) Responsible Day by spending a day out in the trade to encourage adults to designate a driver.
- MillerCoors implements a number of drunk driving prevention programs throughout the year to help their customers get home safely. This includes the Miller Lite and Coors Light Free Rides programs, which have expanded to 16 communities across the country and have provided over 4 million safe rides since the programs’ inception. In 2013, MillerCoors partnered with Hailo, the world’s highest rated taxi app, to bring $3 million worth of taxi rides to Boston, Chicago and New York over the holiday season. Furthermore, the brewer continues its sponsorship of a national cab dispatch service, 1-800-TAXICAB, that includes a downloadable app, and supports designated driver programs across the country. Through these programs, an online pledge, and advertising, MillerCoors recently surpassed its goal of being 10 Million Strong Against Drunk Driving early and will now work to engage millions more. The brewer is committed to preventing underage drinking and partners with the Responsible Retail Forum to enhance the existing skills of retailers through the Respect 21 program, assisting almost 2,000 retailers in keeping alcohol out of the hands of those under the legal drinking age. MillerCoors also partners with organizations like TEAM Coalition and Health Communications, Inc. to provide training to concessionaires, stadium operations staff and servers.
- Constellation Brands Beer Division works to include an element of responsible programming in major sponsorships like the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, Calif., which draws over 500,000 spectators, by encouraging consumers to use public transportation to travel around the event and then home safely. Constellation Beer Division also partners with public transportation providers, like the Chicago Transit Authority and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, to offer safe-rides home over Cinco de Mayo and other holiday time periods.
- As the first alcohol company to place a responsibility message on all of its television, radio and print advertising, HEINEKEN USA has had a longstanding commitment to the responsible consumption of its products. In 2013, the company took it a step further by integrating its newly launched Newcastle Cabbie Black Ale with its Taxi Magic partnership, providing thousands of consumers of age with discount codes to get a safe ride home. For its distributors, the company recognizes partners who go above and beyond to promote responsible consumption through its annual 1864 Award for Responsibility. From partnering with local law enforcement to community programs and employee incentives, HEINEKEN USA works with distributors to help elevate responsible consumption everywhere. HEINEKEN USA is also a founding partner of the Health Alliance on Alcohol, a partnership between HEINEKEN USA and renowned hospitals, aimed at reducing underage drinking by offering free downloadable e-books and other resources to parents and mentors to encourage discussions with teens about alcohol.
Government statistics and other research show that these and other programs to prevent alcohol misuse could be paying off
- Indicators show record low levels of underage drinking among 12-17 year-olds, according to the federal government’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Since record keeping began in 2002, past-month drinking is down 27 percent; binge drinking has declined 33 percent; and heavy drinking has dropped 48 percent.
- Another government study, the Monitoring the Future survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders’ drug and alcohol use, reported that alcohol use and binge drinking continued their long term declines in 2013, reaching their lowest points in the history of the study.
- A 2013 annual survey from the University of California Los Angeles reveals that the percentage of college freshmen who spent 6 or more hours “partying” in a typical week during their senior year of high school reached a new record low. Down 65 percent since 1987, when the question was first asked. The survey also revealed that 35 percent of college freshmen reported drinking beer in 2013, down 53 percent from its peak in 1982 (73.7 percent).
- According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drunk-driving fatalities have decreased 51 percent since 1982 and 21 percent over the last five years alone.
“Keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors and teaching responsible drinking habits is something that all Americans, not just our brewers and beer importers, should encourage,” Thorne concluded. “We will continue working with parents, educators, law enforcement and community groups to promote the safe and legal consumption of beer in communities across the nation.”
The Beer Institute is the national trade association for the American brewing industry, representing both large and small brewers, as well as importers and industry suppliers. First founded in 1863 as the U.S. Brewers Association, the Beer Institute is committed today to the development of sound public policy and to the values of civic duty and personal responsibility:www.BeerInstitute.org. Connect with us @BeerInstitute and on Facebook.