Tuesday, March 20, 2012

From the Ulster Prevention Council Blog: BEER PONG: Where Getting Drunk is the Aim of the Game

The following is from the Drug Free Action Alliance:

What is beer pong? It’s a game where one person (or team) tries to bounce a ping-pong ball into a beer-filled plastic cup in order to make their opponent have to drink it. It seems it would not take much skill or athleticism to accomplish this task, yet there exist various local and national beer pong “sporting” leagues as well as a World Series of Beer Pong. Then there are the many “sporting” accessories, like beer pong tournament tables, balls and even themed clothing, that can be easily acquired online or in local retail stores. Now you can add a beer to that growing list of branded products, specific to this highly popular, definitely dangerous, drinking game.

According to marketing and sales guru Neal Frank, beer pong has become a $300 million dollar business industry and is increasing. It is also the reason behind his recent creation: Pong Beer. His low-priced beer comes with an attention-getting gimmick called the Rack Pack, which includes 30 cans of beer and two pong game balls.

On the company’s official website, Pong Beer claims to be an active leader in promoting alcohol responsibility, referencing initiatives that include identifying programs that encourage the prevention of drunk driving, the importance of addressing and educating consumers on dangers of binge drinking, as well as the company’s Zero Tolerance Policy on underage drinking. Against underage drinking and binge drinking?

Just google “beer pong” and let the pictures and stories speak for themselves. You won’t see or hear from too many adults, nor are you likely to witness so-called “responsible drinking.” As one internet user put it, as he was providing his how-to guide to playing beer pong: “Just remember, it's all about having fun and getting drunk.”

Pong Beer is currently available in 15 states, including
New York, and the distribution list continues to grow.

From the Ulster Prevention Council Blog: Should We Teach Youth to Drink Responsibly at Home?

Often when I speak to community groups about underage drinking, a question is raised regarding youth drinking in European countries. A common perception is that youth in European countries are introduced to alcohol in cultural context that reduces heavy and harmful drinking. The idea is often expressed that because the drinking age in the U.S. is 21, much higher than in European countries, youth miss out on the opportunity to learn to drink within family settings where moderate drinking is the norm.

I decided that I needed more information in order to address these questions knowledgeably and accurately, and I was curious. Is there evidence that European youth drink less and experience fewer problems than their American counterparts?

Fortunately, we have significant data available in the form of the large European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). ESPAD surveys students every four years, and in the last survey available (2007) 35 European countries collaborated, gathering data from more than 100,000 students. The questionnaire was closely modeled after the U.S. Monitoring the Future (MTF)survey and questions from the two surveys map closely onto one another.

Based on analysis of the 2007 ESPAD data by Bettina Friese and Joel W. Grube from the Prevention Research Center Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, the comparison of drinking rates and alcohol-related problems among youth with 2007 MTF data does not provide support for the belief that Western European youth drink more responsibly than youth in the U.S.

In comparison with youth in the

  • A greater percentage of youth from nearly all European countries report drinking in the past 30 days;
  • A majority of the European countries have higher intoxication rates among youth;
  • For a majority of European countries, a greater percentage of youth report having been intoxicated before the age of 13

The rate of current drinking among youth in the U.S. is significantly lower than that for any of the Western European countries in this study with the exception of Iceland, where the legal drinking age is 20, the highest in Western Europe.

The study concludes that there is no evidence that the more liberal policies and drinking socialization practices in
Europe are associated with lower levels of intoxication.

Studies have consistently shown that youth who start drinking and heavy drinking at a younger age are at significantly greater risk for damage to the developing brain and a range of alcohol problems, including car crashes, drinking and driving, suicidal thoughts and attempts, unintentional injury, as well as drug and alcohol dependence later in life (e.g., Dawson, Goldstein, Chou, Ruan, & Grant, 2008; Hingson & Zha, 2009; Hingson, Edwards, Heeren, & Rosenbloom, 2009; Hingson, Heeren, & Edwards, 2008).

The ESPAD data provides much more rich information about alcohol and drug trends among European youth. I’m glad that I was able to find creditable information to share with parents, youth, professionals and community members to address the question of cultural contexts for youth drinking and further basis for supporting the legal drinking age of 21, at home as well as in the community.

For a copy of this and other ESPAD reports, email me or visit www.espad.org.


Chery DePaolo
Program Director
Family Services
Ulster Prevention Council