Fixes for the US drinking problem are hard to sell

When health officials wanted to reduce deaths from tobacco, they spread messages about the proven cancer risks, pushed to ban smoking in public places and worked to raise taxes on cigarettes.

Alcohol, which causes 88,000 deaths a year in the USA, is a similarly grave public health concern. Studies show deaths linked to alcohol are up 35 to 50 percent since 2000. But the way forward is less clear.

What worked with smoking may not work with drinking, which enjoys broad social acceptance. Nearly all the potential solutions hit considerable roadblocks.

The Trump administration’s tax cut last year included an 18 percent break in the federal tax on beer, wine and liquor.

States with more stringent alcohol control policies had lower rates of binge drinking, according to an analysis of state laws and taxes in 2014.

Binge drinking accounts for about half of all deaths attributable to alcohol, two-thirds of years of life lost and three-quarters of economic costs.

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