Public health and alcohol: Expert calls Utah 'envy of the nation'

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  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 5:29 p.m.


    "Good work, Utah. Stay focused and ignore the progressives: They only bring entropy in every form.

    Now work on your suicide rates and you may become all that Brigham foresaw."

    Agree with your comment on ignoring the "progressive" trends. Utah needs to stick to what is best for people when lives are at stake. A bit of inconvenience with alcohol is well worth it.

    As far as suicide is concerned, Utah's higher than average suicide rate has to do with the higher altitude. The University of Utah Brain Institute has shown a correlation with suicide and higher altitudes. This is why the Rocky Mountain states have much higher suicide rates than elsewhere in the USA. However, Utah is consistently near the bottom of the Rocky Mountain states with suicide. So, it seems that Utah is doing something right with the suicide problems. But, still work remains to be done, of course. But it is difficult to counter the higher altitude, right?

  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 3:06 p.m.

    A number of responses here have contained the general message that "the current system is working, so don't change it" as it pertains to the Zion Curtain. If "the current system is working so don't change it', then why is the state considering lowering the blood alcohol level from .08 to .04? If we've reached liquor law nirvana, then leave the current limit where it's at because we have proof, via our low DUI rates, that the current laws are just fine.

    And there are a number of responses here from those that seem to think that anyone who has one drink will inevitably end up having more than one drink. They seem to believe that no one drinks and then stops short of getting drunk. This is a completely incorrect perception. In my experience, a very large majority of restaurant drinkers have only one alcoholic drink and stop short of being drunk.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    Jan. 28, 2014 3:01 p.m.

    Right on, LibJimmy. As first territorial governor, BY had nothing to do with Utah's state liquor laws. Neither did his Mormon legislature impact any of your "Sabbath" laws.

    But, reading his journals will enlighten you.

    Vis-a vis my correlation of lowering Utah's suicide rate with helping the Beehive State become all that Brigham wanted for his beloved saints, again- read his memoirs and Discourses. I will never believe in his celestial marriage theology, buf he forged an empire with pure determination and vision. He knew the cost in blood and treasure. I assure you that he wanted only the best for his Deseret.

    And I would stand beside my grandmother and fight for Abolition, too. Even if it saved only one life.

  • fp88ren Providence, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 2:52 p.m.

    Red Corvette

    Empirical data elsewhere invalidates your statement.

    Loosening of alcohol regulations, be they related to zoning, licensing, or general access has ALWAYS had a correlation with increase in alcohol-related domestic and community issues. I'm not saying that this should not happen. Should a community majority desire the increased "freedom" and is willing to accept the downside, have at it. Just don't try to portray this in any other than its true light. Accusing a religious organization of "abuse of power" for merely weighing in on this subject strikes me as un-American.

  • LiberalJimmy Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 1:58 p.m.

    @Shazandra...Have you ever looked up the meaning of the word "progressive"? Apparently not! Also, what does Brigham Young have ANYTHING to do with State liquor laws? There supposed to be separate. Remember? Something us "Progressives" will definitely be changing here in Utah over the next several years. Go take a look at this document called The Constitution it clearly spells this out.

  • LiberalJimmy Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 1:48 p.m.

    @WRK..."If you don't like the laws here in Utah go to another State." Typical closed minded Utah County comment. Is that the message of your Mormon faith? Is that not exactly what happened to your Mormon ancestors? Pushed and kicked out of State after State until they found "Zion". Your comment didn't strike me as very tolerant of others whom do not practice your religion and believe it or not there are many here in Utah that do not..Just a thought!

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    Jan. 28, 2014 1:39 p.m.

    Good work, Utah. Stay focused and ignore the progressives: They only bring entropy in every form.

    Now work on your suicide rates and you may become all that Brigham foresaw.

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 1:25 p.m.

    Although I don't drink alcohol (or carbonated beverages, for a variety of scientifically-based health reasons), I concur with Brahmabull's opinion.

    I also add that, more than anything, I am opposed to Utah's liquor laws for no other reason than they seem to be an expression and manifestation of the LDS Church's inappropriate involvement in, and influence over, legislation and government in this state.

    On the basis of principle (the spirit of the 1st Amendment), I object and would like to see a rational and un-religiously-biased discussion of alcohol legislation in Utah.

    I am confident that reason (rather than faith) will serve as a superior basis for legislation of alcohol consumption.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Jan. 28, 2014 1:00 p.m.

    alcohol laws are great so far as they help protect people. Making Utahns buy liquor in a state owned store instead of a grocery store doesn't help protect people. If a person is going to drink and drive they are going to do so no matter if they buy the product at a grocery store or a liquor store. Generally I am satisfied that I can drink when I want, and although it is slightly inconvenient that I have to go to the liquor store it isn't a huge deal. The zion curtain is ridiculous, but doesn't create any big problems for me.

  • From Ted's Head Orem, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 12:31 p.m.

    Perhaps someone could point me to a study that examines attitudes regarding driving after drinking as seen by those who self-identify as A) Alcoholics; B) Heavy Drinkers; C) Social Drinkers; D) Non-drinkers. I wonder if those who beat their chests suggesting that they would never cause a problem in their vehicle after a little wine with their steak can back that up statistically. While I don't drink, I have spent plenty of hours out socially with those who do and it has been my experience that they rarely have a good idea of how buzzed they are, and as they actually get "drunk" they are very poor at making good assessments of their condition. Sure, that's a broad brush and there will be some exceptions...yet I suspect that most drinkers believe THEY are the exception. Sort of like asking people if they are better than average drivers and having 80% answer "yes." I believe that the Curtain and other restrictions exist to hinder the promotion of alcohol consumption. Until we have better methods for keeping drinkers from operating their vehicles we need to do our best to control those who cannot or will not control themselves.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 12:22 p.m.

    I think our liquor laws should be changed, but in the other direction. Alcohol should be driven further away from public place. If we allow the sale of alcohol at all it should be only to those who have an impeccable record of not having caused any problems relating to its use. E.g. domestic violence under the influence should forever disqualify the perpetrator from purchasing or consuming alcohol in our state. We need to stop being ashamed of our beliefs and values and stand up for them firmly. Then others will respect us. If we believe what we believe kind of, and not with all of our hearts, and are not willing to sacrifice for our beliefs, then we only deserve having outsiders make fun of our inconsistency and lack of true principles.

  • TLFinSLC Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 12:09 p.m.

    I have been a drinker an I have no issues at all with Utah's alcohol laws. If I want to drink I am able to and the statistics prove that the state must be doing something right in protecting the public from the negative aspects of alcohol consumption.

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 12:03 p.m.

    As has been pointed out multiple times in previous comments, it is Utah's culture and dominant religion, not our convoluted laws, which are responsible for lower consumption. There has been no study or even logical reasoning proving that something like the "Zion Curtain," where drinks are mixed in a back room out of the view of patrons, has anything to do with keeping alcohol from minors, and reducing imbibing and drunk driving.

  • forddoc Clearfield, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 11:36 a.m.

    This article is far from accurate. How does the state of Utah go from 50th in the nation for having the worst record in alcohol related deaths to 1st? (2007) The simple answer is, a reporter wants to make the state look good, for the new Legislature session. And, the church has weighed in saying "separate alcohol preparation areas are part of an effective system for protecting against underage drinking, overconsumption and driving under the influence of alcohol". What happened to separation between church and state? The church should stick to what it knows and stay out of the law business. The so called ZION Curtain laws are rediculous and serve zero purpose.
    I completely agree with House Speaker Becky Lockhart, a Provo Republican who calls the barrier "weird." She said it's "one little thing" the state could change to make Utah more attractive to new businesses. Come on Utah, bring the state into the 21st century, legalize gambling (There's the money to offset any tax increases) and fix the rediculous drinking laws.

    Jan. 28, 2014 10:55 a.m.

    Unfortunately, you still aren't making much sense, but let me try to comprehend: your ancestors (and mine) settled this state, and faced persecution along the way. Long story short, because of this I cannot buy wine where I buy my steak. Am I close?

    Let me ask you this: how does purchasing wine at the grocery store make kids less safe? Do you really believe that a child seeing a wine bottle in the grocery store (or a cocktail being mixed at a restaurant) is dangerous? If you and your family do not consume alcohol, that is fine. Wouldn't seeing a wine bottle at the grocery store allow you the perfect opportunity to discuss with your children why your family feels that alcohol is not something to consume?

    Hiding something behind a wall, or pretending something does not exist is not the answer. While Utah has low rates of teen drinking, those that do drink tend to binge drink at a much higher than other teens nationwide. This is the result of our state's current laws and alcohol culture.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    Jan. 28, 2014 10:51 a.m.

    Isn't it interesting that the State of Utah, supposedly imbued with Conservative values, has chosen to ignore the doctrine of limited government and has imposed itself upon the private sector in the case of alcohol more than even the most liberal states.

    . . . And it works.

    That goes to show that Progressivism can and does work.

    Who knew that Utah is a state dominated, in at least this one instance, by Progressive Politics?

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 10:40 a.m.

    All things in moderation, You don't have to get drunk when you drink (see 95% of drinkers.)

    Plenty of hazards on the road that are equal to drunk driving but because the LDS church has no commandments about texting we wont change those laws?

    The zion curtain is the equivalent of putting your hand over your ears and going nah nah nah, it's a dumb law that has NO data or stats to back it up, just Bishop Valentines pipe dream.

  • WRK Riverton, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 10:33 a.m.


    Ahh, yes. And when I had ancestors that sacrificed to settle a state so they could have religious freedoms, free from the dogma of an nation that wanted to "exterminate" them. And so they have enacted laws to keep their children safe, and people from other states come in and change those laws…

    Yes, I see my example as fitting perfectly. If you do not, then the fault is not mine…

  • jfarish St. George, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    So, if having a wall separating the alcohol preparation area from the restaurant is not a big deal to take down, then it isn't a big deal to leave up, either. Stop playing victim and be grateful for the fact that you can drink the alcohol that you want, and be grateful that Utah has among the lowest underage drinking numbers in the country. Also, don't play the "we need to attract more businesses" card, either. Some of the biggest corporations on earth are building branches, or even corporate headquarters, here in Utah. The current liquor laws didn't stop them from taking advantage of our business friendly laws and available, educated and motivated work force. Give it a rest, already, and focus on those things that actually might make a difference in the state.

  • iplaydat South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 10:23 a.m.

    So the same people that credit LDS members in Utah that don't drink for the low DUI statistics turn around and then denigrate and blame those same beliefs for the alcohol restriction laws! So which is it? You can't have it both ways!

  • evansrichdm west jordan , UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 10:12 a.m.

    If people in this state want a drink they can get one, so the right to drink is not being taken aways, but the rest of us do not need to see, smell or deal with you getting drunk and nor should we fear you getting behind a wheel.
    On personal note I had a good number of friend who did not drink be killed by drunk drives. One friend was on a bike on a Sunday afternoon and was ran over by a drunk driver. I have also seen a good number of Soldiers I have served die more from drunk driving then combat. Any laws that protect the rest of us not drinking and those that do drink is a good law.

  • Shawnm750 West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    While Utah does have some "quirky" laws related to alcohol. I personally don't think the "Zion Curtain" is necessary, but I also don't think it adds that much of a burden on restaurant owners either. Most restaurants already mix drinks in a specific area, so how hard is it to add partition? But there are other states that have even stricter alcohol laws. There are places in the Midwest and other areas where you can't even buy alcohol on Sundays.

    While I do believe that people's choice of lifestyle has more to do with Utah's alcohol-related death rate than some of our liquor laws, I think we need to do some solid research supporting/refuting them. So far, all I've heard is a lot of talking heads asserting their opinions either in favor of or against the current laws. So far, neither side has offered any solid data focused specifically on those aspects of the law currently in question.

    Jan. 28, 2014 9:46 a.m.

    You are right, going out to eat at a restaurant is exactly the same as moving your family from the state that your ancestors sacrificed to settle.

    Try coming up with a better example. Just a thought...

  • WRK Riverton, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 9:28 a.m.

    I find your statements very interesting. "If you don't want to be in a restaurant that serves alcohol, go to a liquor-free restaurant." I would add a little something to that statement: If you don't like the laws in Utah (voted on by the majority of the people in Utah), go to another state that has the laws that you do like (and people who are more to your liking).

    Just a thought...

  • truth in all its forms henderson, NV
    Jan. 28, 2014 9:20 a.m.

    I teach the people correct principles and let them govern themselves. Utah's alcohol laws are archaic and its time they were brought into the 21st century.

    Jan. 28, 2014 8:42 a.m.

    If you care about keeping your children safe, you should be much less concerned with alcohol, and turn your attention towards prescription drugs. 34 people in Utah died in 2012 due to alcohol/drunk driving.

    Per the Utah Health Department, 23 people die a MONTH from prescription drugs. Utah has the 8th highest prescription overdose death rate in the country.

    Allowing me to purchase my wine where I purchase my steak is not putting anyone at an imminent risk of death or injury.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 8:40 a.m.

    Red Corvette
    your bitterness does not help your cause
    making liquor passé IS why Utah has low dui rates - that is a good thing

  • mcdugall Murray, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 8:36 a.m.

    We're the envy of the nation when it comes to Alcohol control laws, how about we put those same efforts and energies into improving the regulations on pollution and improving the quality of our air shed?

    Jan. 28, 2014 8:28 a.m.

    If you don't want to be in a restaurant that serves alcohol, go to a liquor-free restaurant. You see, that is how the free market works. If there is a demand for an alcohol free restaurant, someone will open one and be succesful. Start voting with your wallet, and until you do, stop complaining and try to be an adult when going to Chili's.

    As for Utah's low DUI instances/alcohol related deaths: Utah is low mostly in part due to the low number of citizens who don't consume adult beverages. When comparing the drunk driving deaths per gallon of alcohol consumed (per capita), Utah ranks 7th. In fact, states like Vermont, Rhode Island, Delaware, and even Wyoming consume almost twice as much alcohol per capita than Utah, yet have lower percent of their citizens who drink be involved in a drink driving death. Obviously, these states are doing something better than Utah...

    You would think that if our legislator was so concerned with keeping people safe, they would regulate guns like they do alcohol. Guns, afterall, were responsible for 16X the deaths in Utah last year than alcohol...

  • DH48 West Jordan, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 7:32 a.m.

    I come from a family that has been ripped apart by the effects of alcohol. It kills me to see how people are hurt by alcohol and yet how they defend the right to have alcohol destroy their lives. When a person takes up drinking they never know how it will impact them. They may be a very light social drinker but one night decide to over consume and then have something tragic happen. Alcohol is not worth the negative impact it brings to so many!

    Laws discouraging and restricting the use and abuse of alcohol should be as tight as we can possibly have them. Why do so many people defend the right to destroy lives?

  • caf Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 7:26 a.m.

    I think that Governor Huntsman did enough to "bring Utah into the 21st Century". We need lawmakers that will support our safer atmosphere and keep our restaurants from looking like bars as they do in other states. It is SO nice to walk into most restaurants in Utah to see a RESTAURANT and not a line up of liquor choices.

  • wazzup Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 7:24 a.m.

    I love all the expert opinions of some readers. I'll trust a guy from Johns Hopkins who studies alcohol related deaths. For whatever reason, we look pretty good on DUI statistics. Why meddle with something that appears to be working? If it isn't broken, don't fix it.

    Good job Utah!

    @Red Corvette, what evidence do you have that loosening the laws wouldn't change the statistics? Wishful thinking?

  • Y-Ask-Y? Provo, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 7:13 a.m.

    The law requires a Zion's curtain, so "innocent" people cannot see drinks being poured or mixed. But this article shows a picture of many shots being poured!

    Oh, the horror! Some innocent readers will now lose all self control and binge!

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    Jan. 28, 2014 7:09 a.m.

    Red Corvette. You are actually trying to justify driving while drunk? Come on man, wise up! Incidentally, the LDS church or any other church can not force anyone not to drink alcohol so your ridiculous comment about the "abuse of power" is total nonsense!

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 6:55 a.m.

    So, Red Corvette and Becky Lockhart want the laws to change. They have no data to support their position but that doesn't prevent them from having strong opinions. (Ironically, Lockhart's position is partly based on what she perceives as a lack of data supporting current legislation yet she provides no data of her own to counter it.)

    I'm not sure where Red Corvette is coming from other than he obviously has something stuck in his craw about the LDS church. But Lockhart does reveal some of her thoughts.
    - Having a little more business in Utah is worth risking a few lives.
    - She thinks she hears the laughter of the world and is becoming ashamed (wasn't there a dream or vision about exactly that).

    You know, I'm not even sure I want a business in Utah that holds alcohol in such high esteem. Maybe Lockhart should start her campaign by visiting with families who have recently lost loved ones due to alcohol related incidents. Then maybe she'll realize that the loss of even one more life is not worth a few shekels.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Jan. 28, 2014 6:26 a.m.

    As Red said.

    Utah could probably drop every alcohol related law and still have a lower DUI incidence than most/all states.

    The elephant in the room hides well.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 5:29 a.m.

    Re: "Even if the laws were relaxed, the prohibition (and outcome) would not change."

    We have your word on that?

    Truth is, ANY tinkering with current law has the possibility of killing more innocent children. Current law hurts no one.

    So why change?

    The only possible answer is that the "hospitality" industry, along with its stooges in the legislature, cares more for its profits than for the lives of our children.

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    Jan. 28, 2014 4:53 a.m.

    I don't necessarily agree with Red Corvette's abuse of power claim, but I do agree that it is not the Utah's laws that resulted in so little drunk driving or underage binge drinking, but rather that so many people choose to obey the Word of Wisdom.

  • SAS Sandy, UT
    Jan. 28, 2014 12:25 a.m.

    While it's great that Utah has such a low incidence of DUI, the article presents no evidence that Utah's byzantine liquor laws--rather than its large proportion of teetotaling Mormons--are responsible for the difference.

    I'm reminded of the story of the man who claimed he was keeping himself safe against wild tigers by spreading a special powder around his home. When his neighbors pointed out that there weren't any wild tigers anywhere in America, he replied, "see how well it works?"

    Perhaps, rather than basing our government policy on faith, we might look at how we can encourage responsible behavior, without forcing a lot of bizarre and senseless restrictions on those who choose to consume. Sounds like the conservative thing to do.

  • birder Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 27, 2014 9:04 p.m.

    We are the "envy of the nation," and yet shortsighted people here want to loosen up the state's alcohol laws? Required reading for the Legislature: The LDS Church's statement on alcohol laws that was released last week, and the statements made by the dad of the 3-year-old child who was killed by the drunk driver in Taylorsville.

  • conservative scientist Lindon, UT
    Jan. 27, 2014 8:43 p.m.

    What a blessing to have the lowest incidence of DUI and associated death in the nation. I'm grateful we don't have more stories like the very recent tragedy of the three year old killed by a drunk driver. Doing what we can to promote safety should trump concerns from the hospitality industry and others who think we are wierd.