FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 058-10 Tuesday, November 30, 2010
MEDIA CONTACT: (212) 788-5290
Susan Craig/Zoe Tobin: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov
New Health Department Campaign Depicts the Dangers of Excessive Drinking
Signs urging New Yorkers to “stop drinking while you’re still thinking”
will appear in city subways throughout the holiday season
November 30, 2010 – New York City is a great place to spend
the holidays, but too much drink can turn a celebration into a tragedy. Alcohol
kills some 1,500 New Yorkers every year, and it lands thousands more in the
hospital. As the Health Department reported this month, excessive drinking
prompted more than 70,000 emergency-room visits among New York City adults last
year alone. In the wake of that finding, the agency is offering New Yorkers a
reality check. “Two drinks ago you could still get yourself home,” says the
hand-scrawled note on a sign going up in subways this week. It shows a
well-dressed woman sitting slumped and alone, her belongings strewn beside her
on a dingy underground stairway. In another poster, image a young man in
business attire stares into the camera, bleeding and bruised after a barroom
altercation. “Two drinks ago you would have walked away,” the tagline says.
“Stop drinking while you’re still thinking.” The new ads will run in Spanish and
English throughout the holiday season.
“Alcohol takes a devastating toll on our health and well being,” said Dr.
Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “New Yorkers are surrounded by
ads selling alcohol, and the messages are enticing. Beer, wine and liquor may
look like passports to sophistication and romance. But even two extra drinks can
turn a good time into a disaster. If the images on these signs help drive that
message home, they could spare New Yorkers a lot of needless suffering.”
impairs judgment and coordination, triggering violence and unintentional
injuries. And the Health Department’s recent findings
suggest that many New Yorkers are at risk. More than 40% of the city’s adult
drinkers say they have engaged in “binge” drinking (defined by health experts as
five or more drinks on one occasion) during the previous month. The problem is
even more common among under-age drinkers, more than half of whom report a binge
in the previous month.
Nationwide, excessive drinking kills approximately 79,000 people every year.
Among the 1,537 adult New Yorkers who died from alcohol overuse in 2008, chronic
liver disease was the leading direct cause, accounting for 340 deaths (22%).
Alcohol contributed to an estimated 30 accidents and poisonings the same year,
as well as 230 homicides, 100 suicides and 75 motor vehicle-related deaths.
Excessive drinking also increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases,
dementia and uncontrolled diabetes.
While launching the subway campaign, the Health Department is releasing a new
Bulletin to help people gauge their alcohol intake and avoid overuse. The
bulletin offers specific definitions of a drink – 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of
wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor – and explains how people’s tolerance for alcohol
can vary. As a rule, men should have no more than two drinks a day or 14 in a
one-week period. For women, the upper limits for healthy drinking are one a day
or seven over the course of a week.
The new Health Bulletin also describes warning signs for alcohol dependence –
such as increased tolerance and uncontrollable cravings – and offers a simple
self-test to help readers identify drinking problems. The bulletin also offers
resources for anyone needing help with an alcohol problem.
For information about unhealthy drinking, or treatment for alcohol
dependence, call 311 or 800-LifeNet (543-3638).