April is Alcohol Awareness Month
Help California stay healthy by reducing youth access to alcohol, discouraging over-consumption, washing your hands, and practicing social distancing
Sacramento – In 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence organized April as Alcohol Awareness Month in order to increase outreach and education regarding the dangers of alcoholism and addiction. This year presents some unique challenges as we all fight the COVID–19 pandemic. This crisis is unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes. In past crises we have taken comfort through increased human contact, but now we are cooped up in our homes, separated from our co-workers, classmates, and friends.
Since the pandemic started there have been some media reports that off-sale alcohol sales have increased sharply, thus increasing the possibility of excessive drinking because people are stuck at home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly discourages excessive drinking, and the ABC agrees that the misuse and over-consumption of alcohol can lead to negative consequences, as does underage drinking.
Some health authorities, including the CDC, have warned that excessive alcohol use can weaken the immune system and reduce a person’s ability to cope with diseases like COVID-19. Excessive alcohol use is also responsible for approximately 88,000 deaths in the United States each year. Excessive alcohol use includes;
- Binge drinking (defined as consuming 4 or more alcoholic beverages per occasion for women, or 5 or more drinks per occasion for men).
- Heavy drinking (defined as consuming 8 or more alcoholic beverages per week for women, or 15 or more alcoholic beverages per week for men).
- Any drinking by pregnant women or those younger than age 21.
In addition to the CDC, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is using social media on Twitter to spotlight alcohol-related facts and resources through the month of April as part of Alcohol Awareness Month activities.
ABC’s top priority is the health and safety of Californians, and on March 19 ABC announced a Notice of Regulatory Relief for a struggling alcoholic beverage industry after many ABC licensed businesses were asked by the Governor to close their doors to public foot traffic in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. The regulatory relief is intended to support Californians in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, while also providing economic relief to regulated businesses throughout the State. This temporary regulatory relief could ease some of the economic stress on the 93,000 businesses that ABC licenses. It is important to note that the relief will be withdrawn once authorities have deemed the crisis is over or if licensees are found to be abusing the relaxation of certain restrictions.
The Department recognizes there are major health and public safety concerns surrounding alcohol, especially when it is misused. ABC has long promoted temperance, knowing the misuse and over-consumption of alcohol can lead to negative consequences. In providing limited regulatory relief to the hospitality industry during this pandemic, the Department has carefully considered the public’s health, safety, and welfare in providing this relief, and the Department has concluded that none of these measures, exercised on a temporary basis and responsibly by licensees, will jeopardize the public’s health, safety, or welfare.
The Department will continue enforcing the law, preventing underage drinking, and promoting the safe service and consumption of alcoholic beverages in its Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) Program. The program provides the industry with tools needed to build safer communities.
During the month of April we encourage the public to follow the announcements made by Governor Newsom, the California Department of Public Health at COVID-19, local health and safety officials, and the national Centers for Disease Control( CDC). Stay healthy and stay strong.