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Snippets of Health Related Wine News in 2013

-- Mayo Clinic physicians recommend raising “sin” taxes on alcoholic beverages as well as tobacco, sugary drinks and fatty foods. The article was published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. In Australia, as well, there are advocates of taxing wine by alcohol content, claiming that it would reduce alcohol consumption and save millions in health care costs. The wine equalization tax would replace the current tax that is based on value.

-- The French Senate considered a bill that would impose new restrictions on wine, implying that wine is a public health threat. Sin taxes on wine would increase and labels would be required to carry the warning, “Alcohol is dangerous for your health.” New restrictions on advertising and marketing were also proposed.

-- Health groups in the United Kingdom are demanding the elimination of all alcohol advertising. The impetus for this was a study by the University of London that found that 44 percent of men and 31 percent of women drank more than the recommended government guidelines. A higher unit price for alcohol was also proposed.

-- Alcohol Policy 16 conference in Arlington, Virginia, called for taxes and regulations that limit access to alcohol. This group seems to feel that no level of drinking is responsible. I agree with Angela Logomasini, commenting at www.openmarket.org about the conference, “Speakers largely dismissed the idea that health policy related to alcohol should focus on promoting individual responsibility. They forget, we are supposed to live in a free society - one that abolished alcohol prohibition, which proved to be a miserable failure. Ultimately individuals need to be responsible.”

-- There is a a new voice for wine consumers called The American Wine Coalition (AWCC) founded by wine consumers. The AWCC will lobby at the state and federal level for the rights of wine consumers, inform the media of the interests of wine consumers, educate members and non members on the politics behind wine, and support other organizations willing to advance the rights of wine consumers. I suggest you join the AWCC ($35 per year), raise your voice, and publicly endorse the AWCC. Visit www.wineconsumers.org.

-- Federal safety regulators (NTSB) in May 2013 urged states to lower the legal limit for drivers’ blood-alcohol content from 0.08% to 0.05%. The response of the Wine Institute was sensible: “Lowering the legal threshold would effectively criminalize moderate social drinking by responsible adults and divert resources that should be used to target drunk drivers. AAA reported in late 2013 that a first-offense misdemeanor DUI conviction for an adult 21 or older in California was $15,649.

-- MIT scientists have developed a mixture of alcohol metabolizing enzymes that quickly reduces blood alcohol levels in inebriated mice. The treatment could have many implications for alcohol drinkers. Drunken mice that received the enzyme injection sobered up quicker than those that did not receive the enzyme treatment. The treatment has not been tested on humans but the study’s researchers envision a pill that could be taken as an antidote to alcohol, helping to digest alcohol before it reaches the circulation.

-- An irresponsible article appeared at www.dailybeast.com by Jordan Salcito that claimed “natural wine” does not lead to hangovers. This absurd proclamation is unfounded because hangovers are due to ethyl alcohol and all “natural wines” contain relatively the same percentage of ethyl alcohol.

-- According to Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits poll, Americans now prefer wine just as much as they prefer beer. In the poll, 36 percent preferred beer, and 35 percent favored wine. The preference for wine rose from 14 percent in 1992 to 24 percent in 2013 in the under 30-year-old age group, and 37 percent to 46 percent in the same period for people aged 50 and above.

-- A Danish supermarket study found that wine drinkers are generally more healthy eaters compared to beer drinkers. Wine drinkers bought more olives, fruit, vegetables, low fat cheese, milk, poultry and cooking oil, while beer drinkers bought more cold cuts, chips, pork, butter, sausages, lamb and soft drinks. The study suggests that the health benefits of moderate wine consumption may but partially due to diet rather than the wine itself.

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