Public’s Concern Over Alcohol Misuse Remains High

Center for Alcohol Policy releases survey shows support for effective regulation of alcohol

Alexandria, Va. – According to a recently released national poll commissioned by the Center for Alcohol Policy, four-in-five Americans support individual states’ ability to regulate alcohol. The poll results also show that 93% of respondents believes drunk driving problems remain an extremely or very serious problem, a number surpassing concerns about opioid abuse which has dominated the nation’s headlines recently. Binge drinking and underage drinking are seen as  extremely to very serious problems, as well, at 78% and 73% respectively.

According to the survey, Americans overwhelmingly believe that public health and safety issues should be the priority for their local policymakers when crafting alcohol regulations.

“Americans recognize and agree that when it comes to a unique product such as alcohol, regulation is vital, and they support the states’ ability to set their own laws and regulations around alcohol,” said Mike Lashbrook, the Center’s executive director. “Policy makers need to stay focused on the public’s concerns over alcohol misuse and demand for responsible regulation.”

Key findings include:

Americans agree that regulation is important, especially when it comes to alcohol.

  • 89% of adults agree that it is very important to keep the American alcohol industry regulated.
  • Four-in-five Americans agree that since alcohol is different, it requires a different set of rules, and states should regulate it.
  • 86% support the legal drinking age being set at 21.

Additionally, Americans believe that alcohol laws need to prioritize public health and safety. 

  • A clear majority of Americans still see alcohol-related issues as serious problems in this country – drunk driving at 93%, binge drinking at 78% and underage drinking at 73%.
  • Alcohol misuse problems are on par with or even exceed other more highly publicized problems: 93% of Americans believe driving under the influence of alcohol is a extremely/very serious issue, while opioid abuse is viewed by 88% as extremely/very serious.
  • 80% agree that getting rid of alcohol rules, regulations and safeguards could make the problem worse as parents, police officers and retailers already have a difficult challenge keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors.
  • Health and safety issues are much higher priority than economic issues when it comes to crafting alcohol regulation. Americans agree the following health and safety issues are the top priority: reducing drunk driving (77%), protecting health and safety (70%) and reducing underage drinking (62%), over economic issues such as allowing more businesses to sell alcohol (19%), lowering prices for alcohol (22%) or giving consumers more choices (28%).

Americans are satisfied with the existing system and are very happy with the variety of alcohol options currently available to them.

  • 81% of Americans are in support of the existing system for purchasing alcohol in their state and support the state’s ability to regulate alcohol.
  • The vast majority of Americans do not believe the regulations are too restrictive. 72% believe that the regulations are too lenient or about right.
  • 81% expressed support for the regulations requiring producers of alcohol to sell product to independent distributors who in turn sell to individual retailers (commonly referred to as the three-tier system).
  • 90% of adults agree that it is easy to find a wide variety of beer, wine and liquor in their community.
  • 79% agree that there are more local and craft beers and liquor available in their community today than ever before.

The national survey of 1,000 adults at and over the age of 21 was conducted using an online methodology by Public Opinion Strategies, on behalf of the Center for Alcohol Policy on July 20 and 24-27, 2017.  The confidence interval is ± 3.5%.



The Center for Alcohol Policy is a 501c(3) organization whose mission is to educate policy makers, regulators and the public about alcohol, its uniqueness and regulation. By conducting sound and scientific-based research and implementing initiatives that will maintain the appropriate state-based regulation of alcohol, the Center promotes safe and responsible consumption, fights underage drinking and drunk driving and informs key entities about the effects of alcohol consumption. For more information, visit or follow the Center on Twitter at

View the key findings from the Alcohol Policy Survey.


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Center for Alcohol Policy
277 S. Washington Street Suite 500-A Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 519-3090