Michigan bars will continue to close by 2am, at least for now.
Last month I wrote about SB 247, which would extend hours of alcohol retailing as late as 4 am in some Michigan bars. SB247 is dead for now. And while the bill’s sponsor, Sen Virgil Smith, D-Detroit, vowed to bring it back, I hope our state has seen the last of this proposal. Here’s why.
Michigan is home to slightly more binge drinking than the national average.19.7% of adults reported binge drinking in 2011, compared to the national rate of 18.3%. Excessive, or binge drinking, is defined as 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men, 4 or more for women. More alcohol means more health care costs, more addiction, more need for addiction treatment.
Excessive Drinking is Costly
What’s the cost of excessive drinking in Michigan? A CDC funded study pegged the total at $8.2 billion in 2006, the most recent year available. This amounted to $2.16 for every drink consumed in Michigan during 2006.
Who Gets the Tab?
Of the $8.2 billion in costs, the state of Michigan paid $3.5 billion. Excessive drinking drains public resources.
How does this amount compare to the cost of the state’s other budget priorities? As a point of reference, the sales tax hike currently proposed to fix Michigan roads is expected to generate $1.7 billion annually if approved, less the half the state’s costs related to excessive alcohol use.
What Can Be Done
For health, safety, and financial reasons, Michigan should continue work to align with best practices for alcohol sales. This is good sense and good stewardship over public resources.
Alcohol consumption is well-studied. Misuse involves patterns more than chance or individual impulse. Key strategies to reduce excessive drinking include:
- Maintain limits on hours and days of sales.
- Regulate alcohol outlet density- number of retailers in a geographic area.
- Support local control.
- Keep drinking age at 21.
SB 247 is dead for now. As Mike Tobias of Michigan Alcohol Policy for Health and Safety said, this was welcome news from our legislature. To reiterate my words from the previous post: Michigan should focus on regulatory reforms that protect the public interest and promote safety and well-being for residents.