Wisconsin’s binge drinking is exacting a huge economic toll on the state, according to a new report covered in the Journal Sentinel. Wisconsin has the highest binge drinking rate in the United States—25.6 percent with binge drinkers reporting an average maximum of nine drinks per occasion. (Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks in a row for men and four drinks for women).
Excessive alcohol use costs the state $6.8 billion a year, with taxpayers picking up 40 percent of the tab. The per capita cost is $1,200 and includes lost worker productivity, premature death, health care costs, criminal justice system costs, and motor vehicle crashes. According to data from 2011, excessive drinking led to over 1,500 deaths, over 48,000 hospitalizations, and over 5,700 crashes. Julia Sherman, coordinator of the Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Project at the University of Wisconsin Law School, said the state should consider a higher tax on alcohol since it has one of the lowest in the nation. She also suggested making 21 the consistent drinking age, cracking down on adults who buy alcohol for minors, and using sobriety checkpoints.
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