Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Study: Liquor Privatization Has Shaped Youth Perception Of Alcohol

Fewer teenagers in Washington say drinking alcohol is wrong, according to a survey taken after the state privatized liquor sales by two Northwest public health researchers.

The finding comes as Oregon voters are being asked to sign petitions for a similar liquor sales privatization.

Hard alcohol is much more convenient to buy in Washington these days. That was the whole point of the voter-approved initiative that shifted liquor sales away from state control.

But two public health researchers say that the wider availability has come with a societal price tag. They say surveys of Washington youth show increased acceptance of drinking among high school age teens.

“The normalness of it just makes it seem more acceptable, more like, ‘Oh, this is what our community does. This is what our society does,"’ said Linda Becker, co-author of the study and researcher with Washington's Department of Social and Health Services.

Becker says the research also shows an increase in alcohol-related visits to Seattle-area emergency rooms over the past year. And she says there's more shoplifting of liquor, too.

In Oregon, the grocery industry is trying to get a liquor privatization initiative on the ballot similar to Washington's this fall. A public health consultant was quick to peddle the unflattering findings to the media in Salem.

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.