People Back Tough Liquor Laws (If They're Informed)
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If the media reported how often alcohol is really involved in crimes and accidents, people would support stronger liquor laws, researchers say. Despite its involvement in nearly one third of deaths from accidents and violent crimes, relevant alcohol consumption is often excluded from news reports, notes a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Study author Michael D. Slater and his Ohio State colleagues found that the 789 adults they surveyed were more likely to support tighter alcohol restrictions after reading media stories about violent crime, vehicle crashes and other accidents involving alcohol. "People have some awareness of the social cost that alcohol can have," writes Slater. "But only a small fraction of news stories on violent crime and non motor-vehicle accidents acknowledge the contributing role of alcohol." That's partly why people are currently unsupportive of alcohol control measures like cracking down hard on underage drinking and holding bars liable for serving too many drinks to customers. "I think this buttresses the idea that media coverage does matter," says Slater. "Alcohol, as a public-health issue, is not as front and center as it might be if there were more news coverage."