Fact of the Day: Underage and Binge Drinking

As noted yesterday, Pennsylvania ranks middle of the pack or worse in terms of alcohol-related deaths and traffic accidents, despite being one of only two states with complete government control over wine and liquor sales and having far fewer wine and spirit outlets per person than the national average.

But what of other social concerns: underage drinking and binge drinking?

It turns out Pennsylvania is higher than the national average in underage drinking, binge drinking, and underage binge drinking, based on a survey done by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Pennsylvania residents are pretty close to residents in border states.

Alcohol Use in past month Age 12-20 Binge Drinking Age 12-20 Binge Drinking Age 12 +
Pennsylvania 29% 19% 24%
Delaware 30% 21% 25%
Maryland 28% 18% 22%
New Jersey 26% 18% 23%
New York 32% 20% 23%
Ohio 29% 21% 26%
West Virginia 24% 16% 19%
United States 27% 18% 23%
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Statistics, 2007-08, http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k8State/AppB.htm
Prepared by Commonwealth Foundation, www.CommonwealthFoundation.org

These facts should make you wonder if there is any social benefit (or sense) in having the same agency  controlling and regulating alcohol and, at the same time, advertising and selling liquor.