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Study: Drink Specials Encourage Heavy Drinking

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Researchers who studied the relationship between alcohol cost and intoxication concluded that drink specials encourage high levels of consumption, rather than just attracting customers to bars as some in the hospitality industry contend.

The New York Times reported Sept. 2 that researchers who studied male and female drinkers at bars near college campuses found that those who paid the most money per gram of alcohol consumed were the least intoxicated when given breath tests upon exiting. The least intoxicated patrons paid an average of $4.44 for 14 grams of alcohol (in the form of beer, wine or liquor), while those found to be the drunkest had paid $1.81 for the same amount of alcohol.

Bars in the areas studied offered “all you can drink” specials for $5 to $7, and researchers from the University of Florida and San Diego State University found that most of the young patrons had tight budgets and were seeking the most “bang for their buck.”

“These findings do warrant a discussion about the unintended consequences of cheap alcohol, especially among the price-sensitive college student population, which has a well-documented history of alcohol-related problems,” said researcher Ryan J. O’Mara of the University of Florida.

The study is published online and slated to appear in the November 2009 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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