Thank you to all who gave their input and ideas for safety measures for the new Iowa to-go cocktail law. Below is most of the letter we sent to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Division:
"On behalf of the Iowa Alliance of Coalitions for Change, we would like to thank you and your office for your work to establish the alcohol regulations that will keep our youth and communities safe.
As public health and substance misuse experts, prevention staff from across the state have shared their concerns with us on the recent passing of to-go alcohol sales in Iowa. Many of the previous laws and policies regulating the availability and access to alcohol are based on years of scientific evidence and practice to reduce underage drinking, excessive alcohol consumption, alcohol-related injuries, alcohol-related hospitalizations and alcohol-related deaths.
Excessive alcohol consumption, such as binge, heavy, and underage drinking, is a leading cause of preventable death in Iowa. According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, in 2018 Iowa had 85 alcohol-impaired adult driving fatalities and 14 alcohol-impaired youth fatalities. While the adult rate of fatalities (26.7%) is similar to the national rate (28.8%), the youth rate of death is concerning. In 2018, 29.2% of fatalities of youth under the age of 21 involved alcohol in Iowa where the national rate was 24%. The rates of past thirty day consumption in Iowa 24.3% was also higher than the national average of 19.3%. And binge drinking among youth was higher in Iowa (15.6%) compared to 11.7% country wide.
Presented as a way to address declining sales due to COVID-19, we have seen an increase in alcohol sales nationwide. Increased alcohol sales with a pandemic accompanied by worsening mental health issues among Iowans is a real concern for professionals.
Addressing economic impact is important. However, doing so in an irresponsible and money-driven manner with little-to-no consumer protections is concerning and will put our youth, vulnerable populations and communities at risk. To put it simply, we have concerns about the unintended consequences of to-go alcohol sales in Iowa.
To reduce these effects, Coalitions across Iowa propose:
1. Tamper-resistant packaging with labels clearly marking the contents as alcohol. Labels should also include instructions for consumers that packaging should not be opened in a vehicle.
2. Label to warn consumption is illegal for anyone under the age of 21.
3. Packaging should include warning labels (such as those present on current packaging) for intoxicated driving, pregnant women, and a warning about how underage drinking harms developing and adolescent brains.
4. To-go drinks should have a limit on the amount of alcohol contained in the cup. Drinks with several shots (Long Island Iced Tea) or doubles or triples of a drink should not be allowed.
5. Require food to be sold with to-go alcohol.
6. Ensure retailer training on steps to take to verify age of purchaser and intoxicated patrons.
As Iowans and professionals, we ask you to protect our youth and communities by taking a very cautious look at the expansion of availability in Iowa as well as any attempts to weaken alcohol policies."