Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 11, 1968

Family Drinking

n A one million dollar federal government report by the National Institute of Mental Health includes an incredible recommendation. The proposal is to liberalize advertisements, encourage the showing of more drinking in a family setting, permit persons of all ages to purchase liquor and reduce the legal drinking age. Purportedly this would educate young people on how to drink properly. The recommendation also suggests that tax funds be used to promote use of alcohol.

An independent seminar in Washington reached almost the opposite conclusion. Keynoting the ten-day seminar of the National Council on Alcoholism was Dr. Winston H. Beaven. He said that, "if we are serious about solving the problems of alcoholism in our society we must turn the forces of our society loose against glamorization of the drinking act. . . We must enact a legal code that will make the drinking driver pay a stiff penalty. (England has recently done this.) We must enforce laws against teen-age drinking. We must reduce hours when outlets are open."

Sweden was cited as an example where education alone has failed. For the past 50 years Sweden has had the finest program of alcohol education in the world. Through the schools, church seminars and trade unions the entire society has been taught the facts about alcoholism. Yet the consumption of alcohol in Sweden has gone steadily higher.

France provides a contrast. Ten years ago it had the highest rate of consumption and alcoholism in the world. Stringent laws were passed and enforced. Advertising was banned. All sales were controlled and serving at sports events prohibited. France has now become the only country in the Western world to reduce its consumption of alcohol and the rate of alcoholism.

In the United States it costs $10 billion annually in taxes to control the liquor traffic. Industry loses another $10 billion each year in absenteeism and inefficiency due to drinking. This represents only a fraction of the total cost. Alcohol is a factor in: 50% of all arrests, 67% of all fatal automobile accidents and 75% of all serious crimes. Each year a number of bills are introduced in Congress to cope with the problem but they die in committee. Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon sponsors one or more such bills every year. His recent bill (S. 2202) would ban liquor ads from TV between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Senator Strom Thurmond's bill (S. 2500) would require a health warning on alcoholic beverages akin to what is required on cigarettes. The chance that these will become law are remote unless the people at home demand such action by writing to their Senators and Congressmen.