Biden Admin Considering Crackdown on Alcohol

( – There could be bad news ahead for Americans who like to relax with a drink. The Biden administration is thinking of stealing an idea from Canada’s ultra-liberal government, and radically slashing the recommended weekly alcohol intake.

Right now the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommends that American men shouldn’t have more than two alcoholic drinks a day and women should limit their intake to one or less per day. Men having more than 14 a week (seven for women) are considered heavy drinkers, and about 12% of Americans fall into that bracket. However, the NIAAA is now thinking of changing its recommendation.

On August 24, NIAAA director George Koob told a the Daily Mail that he’s paying close attention to Canada’s “big experiment” on alcohol consumption. In January, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) slashed its recommended weekly limit from 15 standard drinks (about equivalent to a 12oz can of beer or a 1.5oz jigger of spirits each) per week to just two — one-seventh of the current US limit. Canadians drink a little less than Americans, but not much less; the average Canadian drinker gets through 8.94 liters of pure alcohol a year, compared to 9.87 liters for the average American. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s liberal government is trying to push that down.

The NIAAA is due to review its own guidelines in 2025, and when the Daily Mail asked him if they’re likely to change he replied “I mean, they’re not going to go up… if [the guidelines] go in any direction, it would be toward Canada.” Some health experts quickly condemned Koob’s comments, pointing out that sensible drinking has social benefits.

There could be a more practical problem, though; heavy drinkers don’t actually pay much attention to government recommendations. They might not even pay much attention to actual coercion. In 2018, Scotland brought in a 50p ($0.63) minimum price for a standard drink, giving itself the most expensive alcohol in the UK. On August 29, new figures showed that alcohol-related deaths in Scotland have just hit a 15-year high. If drinkers ignore punitive pricing, how much attention will they pay to the NIAAA?     

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