GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. – When it comes to health, Minnesotans often rank among the healthiest. That is until Tuesday.
“I was a little disappointed,” said Dr. Joe Lee with Halzeden Betty Ford Foundation. “We’re kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel and that’s concerning more people are dying from excessive drinking in our state.”
The Centers for Disease Control released a report Tuesday that says Minnesota is among the worst states for deaths caused by alcohol poisoning, only seven states are worse.
On average, the CDC says six people died each day in America from 2010 to 2012 because of excessive drinking, most of whom are middle-aged white men.
“When you see this much variability between states, it tells you that it’s artificial, it tells you that it’s man made, it tells you these deaths are preventable,” said Lee.
He said alcohol costs the United States $230 billion a year.
“It causes about $6 billion worth of costs to the state of Minnesota,” added Dr. Ed Elinger, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner.
Elinger believes we have to attack the issue excessive alcohol drinking much like we did with tobacco.
“We have to change the conversation about alcohol to make it a community-wide issue,” he said.
He believes we need to limit advertising of alcohol, especially to children, and raise the price of beer and liquor.
“We need to recognize the data show when you increase the price of alcohol, it reduces binge drinking,” he said.
Experts call this a major public health issue.
“The number of deaths from excess drinking are just the tip of the iceberg,” added Dr. Lee.
He says binge drinking can also lead to things like assaults, rapes and traffic deaths, which is why he believes Minnesota and America need to start talking about its alcohol problem.
“It’s not alcohol that is the enemy, it’s excess drinking that’s the problem,” said Lee.