Monday, April 30, 2012

Liquor Control Board still seeking comments about extending alcohol service hours

In August 2011, the City of Seattle petitioned the Liquor Control Board to consider allowing jurisdictions to extend alcohol service hours beyond 2:00 a.m.  (See posts from April 3, March 14 and November 15.)  The Liquor Control Board hosted hearings around the state and received evenly split testimony with about 50% testifying in favor of extended hours and about 50% testifying against extended hours.  The Liquor Control Board was to make a decision within the next two weeks but has postponed their decision until May 30.

From a prevention standpoint, the federal Community Prevention Services Task Force recommends against extending hours of alcohol sales/service.

In 2003, Vancouver, BC allowed bars in their Granville district to extend closing hours to 3:00 a.m. and, according to a 2007 report by the City and Police Department, between 2002 and 2006:

- The number of police calls between midnight and 6 am increased from 2,000 to over 3,500
- The number of fights doubled from around 140 to almost 300
- The number of disturbance and annoyance calls increased from approximately 310 to 410
- The number of requests for assistance to dispatch doubled from 80 to 160
- The number of stabbings and assaults in progress went from 40 to 100

The Liquor Control Board is still accepting public comments about the City of Seattle's petition.  Comments may be submitted to Liquor Control Board’s Rules Coordinator.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

2012 National Drug Control Strategy

Earlier this month, the Office of National Drug Control Policy released the 2012 National Drug Control Strategy.  There are a few items from the strategy that I will share through this blog and I thought I'd start with the introduction to the chapter entitled, "Strengthen Efforts to Prevent Drug Use in Our Communities".

Youth illicit drug use up since 2006
 . . . while overall youth drug use did not statistically change between 2010 and 2011, past-month use of any illicit drug among 10th graders increased from 16.8% in 2006 to 19.2% in 2011.  

Youth marijuana use up
Marijuana typically drives the trends in estimates of any illicit drug use, and, accordingly, past-month use of marijuana among 10th graders increased from 14.2% in 2006 to 17.6% in 2011.  

Perception of risk down
In addition, there continues to be a decline in the perceived risk of marijuana use among teens.  This is troubling, as research shows drug use trends among youth typically increase one to two years after a weakening of the perceived danger of using drugs.  

Few prevention messages
One possible influence on this observed trend in drug use and perception of risk is the decreased exposure of youth to prevention messages and the presence of messages and policies that downplay the consequences of drug use.  

Legalization not the answer to youth drug use
The Administration also recognizes that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use. 

The paragraph from which this information came is heavy with citations.  To view the citations, the strategy is available online and the excerpt above appears on page 5.

For additional information about youth marijuana use:

-- I blogged about local youth marijuana use data earlier this month.  Statewide data about youth marijuana use are available through the Healthy Youth Survey website.

-- The University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute's website contains multiple science-based fact sheets about marijuana.

-- The American Academy of Pediatrics published an article about Marijuana Legalization: The Potential Impact on Youth.

Get rid of unused medications at police precincts on Saturday

From the Seattle Police Department:

On April 28 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm the Seattle Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.  Bring your medications for disposal to any one of the five Seattle Police Department precincts. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last October, Americans turned in 377,080 pounds – 188.5 tons- of prescription drugs at over 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement partners.  In its three previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in almost a million pounds- nearly 500 tons- of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.  Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the numbers of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.  In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines-flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash-both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Four days after the first event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them.  The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances.  DEA is drafting regulations to implement the Act, a process that can take as long as 24 months.  Until new regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies like the Seattle Police Department and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events every few months.

Friday, April 20, 2012

"Alcopops" get around marketing restrictions and target underage drinkers

Earlier this month, I posted information about free webinar entitled "Joe Camel in a Bottle: Alcohol Trends & Update".  I participated in that webinar yesterday and here are a few of my notes along with some presentation slides.

In the United States, underage drinkers make up 10-19% of the alcohol market producing $10-$20Billion in revenue for alcohol producers.  

Increasingly, underage drinkers consume liquor (distilled spirits).  Girls who drink alcohol report that liquor is their alcoholic beverage of choice.  

During the webinar, James Mosher, JD, described the efforts of one company, Diageo, to take advantage of advertising regulations to market to youth.

As the slide below states, beer is less regulated than liquor when it comes to marketing.

"Alcopops" are sweetened alcohol beverages that are usually sold in single-serving bottles or cans.  They are often fruit-flavored and/or bubbly, resembling soft drinks.  Alcopops are popular among young, especially underage, drinkers.  Examples of alcopops are Blast, Smirnoff Ice, Mikes' Hard Lemonade, Four Loko, and Joose.  

Though it might seem like alcopops would be considered liquor, they are in fact categorized as malt beverages like beer.

Though they may start as beer, the vast majority of alcopops get most of their alcohol from the liquor that is added to what is left of the beer.

Though most of the alcohol content in alcopops comes from liquor, they are considered malt beverages which means that they can be marketed like beer.  As noted in the first slide, this means fewer advertising restrictions, more stores selling them, and lower taxes.  All of which have an impact on youth alcohol use.

In Nebraska, the State Supreme Court ruled that alcopops are indeed distilled spirits and must be marketed as such.  Within a month of that ruling, after concerted lobbying by the alcohol industry, the Nebraska Legislature over-ruled the court's decision.  

Thank you coalition members!

It's National Volunteer Week!

National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, in unison, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals. National Volunteer Week is about taking action, encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change—discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to foster positive transformation.

This is exactly what coalition work is all about.  Prevention WINS is fortunate to have so many volunteer members who take action to be at the center of social change and create a safe and healthy community for our children!

To all Prevention WINS coalition members: THANK  YOU!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Red tulips blooming at Eckstein

Last October, students at Eckstein Middle School planted hundreds of red tulip bulbs, in observance of Red Ribbon Week, to increase awareness of the need for youth substance abuse prevention.  Now that is is spring, those red tulips are blooming!

The Power of Parenting

Free community forum: The Power of Parenting, the Power of Community
Thursday, April 19, 2012
6-7:30 p.m.
Shoreline Center, Shoreline WA

Featuring Kevin Haggerty, University of Washington Social Development Research Group

-- The prevalence & consequences of substance use during adolescence, especially binge drinking.
-- The developing teenage brain & consequences of alcohol use.
-- Specific actions you can take to decrease the risk of your children becoming drinking/drug involved.
-- Expectations related to alcohol and substance use

Monday, April 16, 2012

Take Back Your Meds Coalition receives public health award

Congratulations Take Back Your Meds Coalition for receiving a 2012 Health Champions Award from the Washington State Public Health Association!  The coalition received the award under the Alcohol/Tobacco/Other Drug Prevention category.  According to the WSPHA website:

Take Back your Meds, a coalition of 270 organizations from across Washington, supports medicine take back programs aimed at reducing access to unwanted medicines, risk of poisoning and environmental contamination. Coalition members include law enforcement and environmental groups, medical organizations and wastewater agencies, working family and natural resources organizations.  Over the last several years, the coalition has successfully worked to increase awareness of the problem of unwanted medications and improper disposal methods.  Coalition members have taken the initiative (and supported the cost) of operating temporary take back programs in 17 of Washington’s 39 counties, collecting over 160,000 pounds of medicines.  Additionally, they have also dedicated significant time and effort to pass legislation to create a secure, statewide medicine take-back program provided by pharmaceutical manufacturers. While legislation has not yet been passed, these efforts did garner extensive media coverage, with over 40 articles published in 2012 alone, reinforcing the importance of this issue.

Friday, April 13, 2012

4/20 and youth marijuana use

According to CADCA, coalitions are “re-mixing” what “420” means to youth, changing the perception that marijuana is not harmful, and are re-claiming April 20th from an unofficial marijuana smokers’ “holiday.”

In observance of 4/20, I thought I'd post some Washington State data about youth marijuana use.

Access vs. Use
While Washington State 10th and 12th graders say that marijuana is as easy to get as alcohol, alcohol use among high school students remains higher than marijuana use.  Legal, regulated alcohol is used at higher rates than marijuana.  (2010 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey)

Youth Drug Use Trends
Over the past six years, underage drinking and tobacco use rates have declined while youth marijuana use rates have increased.  (Washington State Healthy Youth Survey)

Perception of Risk
Over the past few years, fewer youth report that marijuana use is risky.  As the chart of national data below shows, when perception of risk decreases, use increases.  Some people speculate that the national debate about medical marijuana and marijuana legalization has contributed to this decline in perceived risk.

Youth Treatment & Marijuana
Though alcohol is the #1 drug used by youth, marijuana is the #1 reason youth enter treatment.  This differs from adults, who enter treatment primarily for alcohol-related problems.    

Sources of data:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

National Pharmaceutical Take-Back Day April 28

Click here for more information including the location of a collection site near you.

For local information, visit the Take Back Your Meds website.  The website includes a Take Back Your Meds handout that explains two key messages: Washington needs an ongoing statewide take-back program and drug companies, not taxpayers, should provide take-back programs!

Medicine take-back programs are important because they are one tool for preventing prescription drug abuse among teenagers.  Please consider publicizing the April 28 event among your colleagues, friends, neighbors and family members.  Locally, Bartell Drugs and Group Health have permanent prescription drug (except narcotics) return programs.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

National Prevention Week May 20-26

National Prevention Week is a new annual health observance that will celebrate the work that community organizations and individuals do year-round to help prevent substance abuse and promote mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being.

Below is a public service announcement created by young adults to kick off National Prevention Week.  Its positive message highlights the ways in which young people can focus on their own talents and inner strength to prevent substance abuse and promote emotional well-being in their community.

National Prevention Week will be held in May, near the start of summer and the perfect time for communities to come together and rally around prevention. Summer is a season filled with celebrations and recreational activities that can potentially be linked to substance use and abuse, such as graduation parties, proms, weddings, boating, and camping excursions. The percentages of marijuana, cigarette and alcohol initiates among youth increase between spring (April and May) and summer (June and July), and the timing of National Prevention Week 2012 will help to raise awareness in youth at this crucial time of year.

Individuals and organizations wishing to observe National Prevention Week can access a plethora of prevention-related resources on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services website.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Drug use and the teenage brain

Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse will be speaking in Portland on April 26 about "Addiction and the brain: What is the toll it can take on the brain and on society?"

Two years ago, Dr. Volkow visited Seattle to speak at the annual SAMA Foundation luncheon.  While she was here, this 5-minute video about drugs and the adolescent brain was made.  In the video she states that the brain is not fully developed until people are in their early twenties.  Since the brain is still developing during adolescent years, teenagers are especially vulnerable if they use drugs.

Dr. Volkow's Portland lecture is part of the 2012 Brain Awareness Series hosted by the Oregon Health and Science University.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

CDC: public polices to prevent binge drinking

Last week I blogged about a presentation made by experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about preventing excessive alcohol use including binge drinking among teenagers.  I mostly posted information related to the problem of binge drinking.  This post will cover a few points made about how public policies can prevent binge drinking.

The slide below provides recommendations about restricting alcohol advertising.  The alcohol industry is in violation of its own self-imposed regulations that state that advertisements will not target youth.  Instead of relying on the alcohol industry to regulate itself, public health experts recommend making advertising restrictions part of state and local law.

In addition to restricting advertising, the CDC recommend several other policies that would prevent binge drinking.  As you see in the slide below, the 4th recommendation on the list is to avoid privatization of alcohol sales.  Unfortunately, Washington voters chose to privatize alcohol sales last fall.  

Communities can play an important role in advocating for local policies that can prevent binge drinking.

Community members can start by discussing with colleagues, friends, family members and neighbors about how public policy is a form of youth drug abuse prevention.  Policies that reduce youth access to alcohol is prevention.  

The entire CDC presentation may be viewed below.

For more information about binge drinking, visit the CDC's Vital Signs website.

Joe Camel in a Bottle - free online training

Free online training: Alcohol Trends & Research Update
Thursday, April 19
12-1:15 p.m.

Learn about:

-- the dramatic shift in beverage preference of America’s youth from beer to distilled spirits during the last decade.

-- the role of distilled spirits marketing in challenging beer’s dominance of the youth market.

-- the implications of spirits marketing for underage drinking prevention policy.

Speaker is James F. Mosher, JD: Alcohol Policy Specialist.  Mr. Mosher's pioneering work in alcohol policy has brought him international acclaim. His expertise spans numerous topics, including underage drinking prevention, alcohol marketing, community prevention strategies, alcohol law, dram shop liability, and social host liability. Jim Mosher has completed a new case study of alcohol marketing to young people, "Joe Camel in a Bottle: Diageo, the Smirnoff Brand, and the Transformation of the Youth Alcohol Market", which was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

To register:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Liquor Control Board hearing April 25 about Responsible Vendor Program

The Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB) is asking for public comment regarding soon-to-expire emergency rules regarding the Responsible Vendor Program (RVP) at an April 25 public hearing.

I-1183 mandates the creation of a RVP and the LCB created one under an emergency rule which is now set to expire on May 25. So, the LCB is holding a public hearing to get input on creating permanent rules for a RVP in Washington.

This is an important opportunity to let your prevention voice be heard and weigh-in on aspects of retail alcohol sales rules that have a direct impact on preventing youth access to alcohol and other public health and safety issues in communities across Washington.

Click here for the LCB announcement.

The hearing will be held:
April 25, 2012, 10:00 a.m.
Liquor Control Board Offices
3000 Pacific Ave SE, Olympia

Comments can be emailed to the LCB until April 25 at

Youth substance abuse prevention advocates may ask the LCB to strengthen the RVP by:

-- banning the display of alcohol products in areas that contain products likely to be purchased by youth such as sodas, snack foods and energy drinks;

-- banning the display of youth-oriented advertising for alcohol products;

-- banning spirits sampling in stores;

-- banning self check-out of all alcohol products to preventing youth from avoiding identification checks;

-- requiring alcohol products to be placed away from doors to prevent shoplifting;

-- requiring that only employees 21 years and older be able to sell alcohol.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

CDC provides recommendations about preventing binge drinking

Do you want to know more about the important role public policy, including strongly enforced regulations, play in preventing binge drinking?  Check out this video from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are a few slides from the presentation.

As this chart shows, binge drinking is more of a problem associated with affluence than poverty.  In fact, one of the CDC experts in the video stated that poverty is a protective factor when it comes to binge drinking.  This is especially relevant for the community that Prevention WINS serves (NE Seattle) which has an average household income higher than the City average.

Half of high school students who binge drink consume liquor (spirits, hard alcohol) -- this is of particular concern in Washington State since liquor is about to become much more available now that voters approved the privatization of liquor sales.  In NE Seattle, liquor will now be sold in about 25 stores that youth regularly visit.  Previously, 3 stores in NE Seattle sold liquor -- stores that very few youth visited.  

When people hear the phrase "underage drinking prevention", what often comes to mind first are school-based prevention classes and/or after-school activities.  However, underage drinking prevention is also about creating communities in which alcohol is difficult for teenagers to obtain, there are few alcohol advertisements, strict regulations are enforced and people openly acknowledge that underage drinking is not acceptable.  These are examples of "environmental" strategies for prevention.  

I will blog about the environmental strategies, specifically policies, discussed during this CDC presentation in another post later this week.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Prevention WINS leaders in the news

Within the last two weeks, Prevention WINS coalition leaders were featured in two local news stories.

Former coalition Co-Chair Carolyn Bernhard was featured in a story appearing in JTNews: Helping teens be safe, healthy and engaged

Yesterday, coalition Co-Chair Gary Hothi was interviewed by KING 5 about the City of Seattle's petition to the Liquor Control Board to extend hours of alcohol service.