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Alcohol Researchers to Gather in Riverside


UC Riverside will Host Researchers who Study Alcohol’s Impact on Society

Conference Hosted by the Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies Draws Scholars from Around the World to Downtown Riverside May 31 to June 3.

(May 26, 2005)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (May 26, 2005) — As police officers are keeping an eye out for Memorial Day drunken driving, UC Riverside’s Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies will host researchers from around the world who study alcohol’s impact on society. The conference, called “Alcohol, Drugs, and Violence: Youth Risk Taking, Behaviors and Prevention,” begins May 31 at the Mission Inn in downtown Riverside.

The Kettil Bruun Society for Social and Epidemiological Research on Alcohol is an international organization of scientists who study social aspects of alcohol use and alcohol problems, from youth violence to emergency room admissions to the percentages of heavy drinkers by country, or even by religious preference.

One paper at the conference will analyze how United Methodists in the U.S., who led the effort to introduce prohibition, are now reporting rates of alcohol consumption close to the general population. Another paper will link an increase in alcohol taxes to lower rates of traffic fatalities.

“It’s interesting research and we will hear about 125 research papers,” said Robert Nash Parker, director of UCR’s Presley Center and the organizer of this year’s meeting. “They haven’t come to the United States at all in 17 years, so this is a great honor for Riverside and for UCR to host.”

The conference lasts from May 31 to June 3. It will draw about 140 scholars from all over the world, with heavy representation from Scandinavian countries.

Registration is closed now, but UCR faculty and students are invited to attend with a waiver of the usual registration fees in recognition of UCR’s status as host. Also, media representatives are welcome to observe. Those interested in attending should contact Dr. Parker via email at robnp@aol.com.

The research society’s namesake, Kettil Bruun (1924-1985), served as the Director of the Social Research Institute of Alcohol Studies in Helsinki, Finland from 1955 until 1968 and as Secretary of the Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies from 1955 until 1980. He held a professorship for three years at Stockholm University in Sweden and served in a number of expert capacities for the World Health Organization. He was a pioneer in many areas of alcohol social research.

As an example, here are just three of the 125 research papers that will be presented:

• Methodists and drinking in the USA, Public Health Institute, Berkeley, California -- Methodists were the vanguard of the movement in the 19th and early 20th century which led to the unsuccessful social experiment in Prohibition from 1920 to 1933. Baptists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists were also prominent in this movement. Since then, there has been a softening of the positions of Methodists on alcohol. By 2000, according to the National Alcohol Survey, nearly half of U.S. Methodists said that their religion does not discourage the consumption of alcohol, and over 60 percent described themselves as current drinkers.

• Alcohol prices, consumption, and traffic fatalities, Montana State University -- We examine the relationships among alcohol prices, alcohol consumption and youth traffic fatalities using data across U.S. states from 1982-2000. Using alcohol taxes as instrumental variables, we find that a 10 percent increase in alcohol prices is predicted to reduce youth fatalities by 9 percent.

• Socio-demographic determinants of alcohol consumption in the Danish general population, University of Southern Denmark, Free University Berlin, Copenhagen University -- Danes have been characterized as in a “league of their own” when comparing their drinking style to their Nordic counterparts. Denmark can also be found among the top ten highest alcohol consuming countries in Europe, and in recent international youth studies, Danish teens have ranked near the top with regard to frequency of binge drinking. Preliminary analyses indicate that 5.6 percent of the population is abstainers. About 17 percent of men and 7 percent of women are daily drinkers and 15 percent of men and 10 percent of women can be categorized as heavy drinkers. Almost 40 percent of men and 20 percent of women are heavy episodic

A full schedule is available on the conference Web site: http://silvergategroup.com/kbs2005/index.html


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