For Immediate Release: Contact:
August 14, 2013 Tim Parsons, 410-955-7619
Cassandra Greisen, 410-502-6579
Pilot Study Finds ER Patients Drinking High-Octane Beer
Study Shows Feasibility of Collecting Alcohol Brand Consumption Data in ER Departments
Five beer brands – Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light were consumed in
the highest quantities by emergency room patients, according to a new pilot study from researchers at
The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public
Health. Three of these are “malt liquors” with higher alcohol content than regular beer.
The pilot study, published by Substance Use and Misuse, is the first study of its kind to assess
alcohol consumption by brand and type from patients reporting to the emergency department
“Recent studies reveal that nearly a third of injury visits to Level I trauma centers were alcoholrelated
and frequently a result of heavy drinking,” said lead study author David Jernigan, PhD, CAMY director.
“Understanding the relationship between alcohol brands and their connection to injury may help guide
policy makers in considering taxation and physical availability of different types of alcohol given the harms
associated with them.”
The study was conducted in an urban medical center at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Emergency
Department in East Baltimore on Friday and Saturday nights between April 2010 and June 2011. Of the
105 respondents who admitted to drinking alcohol before their injury, 73 (69%) were male, and 72 (69%)
were African American, reflecting the demographic profile of the neighborhood in which the emergency
department is located.
The research team also tracked the ER patients’ consumption of alcohol by type and compared it
to national market share data from Impact Databank, a market research firm that tracks the U.S. market
for alcoholic beverages by type and brand. The study found that the proportion of distilled spirits
consumed by the ER sample was higher than the market share for distilled spirits in the U.S. More
specifically, vodka, gin and brandy/cognac were over-represented compared to their market share in the
national distilled spirits market. The same was true for ‘ready-to-drink’ beverages (RTDs). Women in the
ER sample were more likely to report consuming higher quantities of RTDs.
Although beer was consumed at a lower proportion in the ER sample compared to the proportion
of its consumption in the national market share for beer, men in the ER sample were more likely to report
consuming higher quantities of beer or malt liquors, which has higher alcohol content than regular beer.
Four malt liquors - Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and King Cobra - accounted for almost 50
percent (46%) of the beer consumed by the sample. Yet these four beverages accounted for only
2.4 percent of beer consumption in the general population.
The next step, according to study authors, would be to pursue this type of research be further
explored in a larger sample of emergency department admissions for injury, across multiple cities and
hospitals. Policy implications of this kind of research could include requirements for clear labeling of
alcohol content on malt beverage containers, including serving size labeling; limits on malt liquor
availability and marketing; and graduated taxation of beer based on alcohol content to discourage
consumption of higher-alcohol products.
This research was supported with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This research was supported with funding from the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research
and Policy, with funding from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, Cooperative Agreement number 5R49CE001507, and
conducted by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth monitors the marketing practices of
the alcohol industry to focus attention and action on industry practices that jeopardize the health
and safety of America’s youth. The Center was founded in 2002 at Georgetown University with
funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Center
moved to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2008 and is currently funded
by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information, visit
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