August Free Press - Crystal Graham, Published date:September 16, 2023
Miss Virginia Katie Rose will promote healthy choices and substance use prevention to students in Virginia elementary schools as part of Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority’s Miss Virginia school tour program.
The Miss Virginia Organization and Virginia ABC share the combined goal of educating students about making positive decisions to better prepare for success.
Supported by the Virginia ABC community health and engagement mission to prevent high risk and underage alcohol use, Miss Virginia educates elementary school students about the risks of alcohol and other drug use. The tour is funded by a $17,500 ABC grant and features several program options for elementary schools across the state, which can participate in person or virtually live.
A George Mason University graduate, Rose earned a law degree from the University of Richmond this year. As Miss Virginia, she plans to also champion her social impact initiative focusing on raising awareness for domestic violence and keeping individuals safe.
Rose feels that ABC’s campaign to prevent substance abuse underscores her commitment to improving the lives of children in dangerous circumstances.
“I know that I want to encourage and have a platform for every child to make healthy choices for themselves and feel that they have a safe place to come forward if they choose to do so,” said Rose. “Substance abuse prevention efforts must begin in Virginia’s elementary schools.”
Since 1953, the Miss Virginia Pageant has provided a platform for young women to advocate for causes and issues important to them. Virginia ABC has a long-standing partnership with the Miss Virginia Organization.
Last year’s Miss Virginia, Victoria Chuah, visited 67 elementary schools reaching 18,369 students promoting healthy decision making and leadership through the Miss Virginia school tour program.
“Virginia ABC and the Miss Virginia Organization have collaborated to meet students where they are with age-appropriate information about drugs and alcohol to protect them from dangerous behaviors as they grow older,” said Virginia ABC community health and engagement director Katie Crumble. “This early communication sets the stage for a lifetime of promoting health and safety by being informed, approachable and good leaders.”
School programsMiss Virginia provides the foundation and encouragement for young students to understand healthy choices and be aware of the harms of substance use.
The Miss Virginia school tour messaging aligns with the Virginia Standards of Learning of Advocacy and Health Promotion, Essential Health Concepts and Healthy Decisions focusing on substance use prevention as outlined in the SOLs. In accordance with these standards, two versions of the presentation based on grade level (Kindergarten-first grade and second-fifth grades) are available.
Each student who participates in the program receives a copy of Virginia ABC’s educational health and safety activity workbook. The workbook encourages powerful connections when a teacher or caregiver shares the experience of completing the book with a child. Workbooks will be shipped to each school prior to the scheduled visit.
Joseph V Micallef, Contributor, December 9, 2022
It’s the holiday season! A time when many individuals and organizations entertain friends, family, employees, and customers. December typically represents the peak month of alcoholic beverage consumption in the US. Given the wide diversity of alcoholic beverages, from low-alcohol seltzers and “alcopops” to beers, wines, and RTDs to overproof spirits, it’s not always apparent exactly how much alcohol, what in industry parlance is called “standard drink equivalence,” you are consuming.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States has launched a new public education campaign, the ABCs of ABVs, to promote a broader understanding of standard drink equivalence. Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RDN, LD, a nutrition expert and former director of nutrition at WebMD, is serving as spokesperson for the campaign. Recently, I spoke with Kathleen to find out more.
JM: Why is the Distilled Spirits Council launching this campaign now?
KZ: With the holidays in full swing, it’s time to celebrate with family, friends and coworkers. For many adults, that means toasting the season with a glass of beer, wine, or a cocktail. Given the increased consumption of alcohol during this period, now is an ideal time to raise attention to the importance of drinking responsibly and practicing moderation.
JM: Why focus on standard drink equivalence?
KZ: Understanding standard drink equivalence is essential for drinking responsibly and practicing moderation when consuming beverage alcohol. But right now, the overwhelming majority of adult Americans don’t know what constitutes a standard drink.
A national survey earlier this year found that nearly 9 out of 10 adults in the United States (88%) do not understand that a standard drink of beer or wine has the same amount of alcohol as a standard drink of distilled spirits – such as whisky, vodka or rum. This misunderstanding may lead people to incorrectly estimate how many standard drinks are in their beverage. For example, a single can of high-ABV craft beer or ready-to-drink beverage may be equivalent to more than one drink under the standard drink definition.
JM: What exactly is the standard drink definition?
KZ: It comes down to the “alcohol by volume” – or ABV – which is the amount of alcohol in a particular container of alcohol. A standard drink is 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (at 40% ABV), five fluid ounces of wine (at 12% ABV), 12 ounces of regular beer, or a ready-to-drink convenience cocktail (at 5% ABV).
Each of these drinks has the same amount of alcohol in them – 0.6 fluid ounces of ethanol. And research has shown that the effects of ethanol on the body are the same, regardless of whether it is in beer, wine, or distilled spirits products.
Governments (from local to federal), public health authorities, and health and traffic safety experts in the United States widely use this standard drink definition.
JM: How should adults use this information to guide their consumption?
KZ: The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans define moderate drinking as consuming up to one standard drink per day for women and up to two standard drinks per day for men for those who drink. That may be a lot less alcohol than people expect. Meanwhile, binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks in one sitting for women and five or more drinks on one occasion for men.
JM: Where can consumers get more information on standard drink equivalence?
KZ: The Distilled Spirits Council has a great website, StandardDrinks.org, which has more information on standard drink equivalence.
Since alcoholic beverages come in various types and container sizes, the website includes a helpful, easy-to-use calculator that allows consumers to input the container size and the ABV of their beverage to see how it measures up to one standard drink. Of course, it’s unlikely that consumers will pull up this calculator in the middle of a party. Still, I would encourage drinkers to look up their typical or expected beverages in advance to be better informed before they drink.
Notably, the website also notes that some adults should not consume any alcohol and recommends checking with your healthcare provider to discuss alcohol consumption.
JM: As a nutrition expert, do you have any final words of wisdom for our readers?
KZ: A beer, glass of wine, or cocktail can be part of an enjoyable and balanced lifestyle for most adults. But as Americans celebrate this holiday season, it’s important to remember that moderation is key for those who choose to drink. And it’s not what you drink; what counts is how much alcohol you drink.
So always remember your ABCs of ABVs: “A”lcohol is alcohol, “B”e mindful of alcohol consumption, and “C”onsume in moderation.
News Release Contact:Virginia ABC Communications - (804) 213-4413
In an effort to reduce underage and high-risk drinking, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) will open its grant application process for the 2023-2024 Alcohol Education and Prevention Grant program on Jan. 1, 2023.
This is the eighth year Virginia ABC is offering grant funding to support the development of alcohol education and prevention programs across the commonwealth.
Since 2013, Virginia ABC has awarded an average of $80,000 each year through its grant program to Virginia organizations working to prevent underage and high-risk drinking. Organizations are eligible to receive up to $10,000 each to support best-practice programs that have a long-lasting impact and encourage partnerships between organizations. Community coalitions, law enforcement, nonprofits, schools, colleges and universities, faith-based organizations and prevention-related groups are encouraged to apply. Proposed projects must address one or more of the following focus areas:
• Underage drinking prevention
• Social providing or social hosting prevention
• High-risk drinking prevention
“We strive to support communities around Virginia to help individuals make informed health and safety decisions to prevent alcohol misuse,” said Director of Virginia ABC Education and Prevention Katie Crumble. “We are inspired by the work of previous grantees and look forward to the innovative ideas this year’s applicants may propose to reach their communities.”
Applications are available online, with a convenient online platform for submission. An application guide is provided to assist with completion and provide more information about the program. This grant application guide and the grant application are located on ABC’s website at www.abc.virginia.gov/education/grants.
Applications are due by 5 p.m. on March 1, 2023.
By Amanda Berger
Anyone who has wandered the alcohol aisle of their local grocery or liquor store recently has seen that consumers have an incredible number of drink choices these days. Beyond beer, wine and spirits, there are now a variety of "ready-to-drink" (RTD) beverages: malt-based hard seltzers, wine-based flavored spritzers, canned or pre-mixed cocktails, and more.
These options have taken off in popularity in recent years, as consumers looked to recreate a bar or restaurant experience in the comfort of their own home or backyard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, while more options are great for consumers, these RTD products come in a range of sizes and alcohol content, and it is not always the case that one container equals one serving. This makes understanding the definition of a "standard drink" critically important.
Yet, a new survey conducted in April for the Distilled Spirits Council by Public Opinion Strategies, a leading opinion research firm, indicates that nearly 9 out of 10 adults in the U.S. (88%) do not know that a standard drink of beer or wine has the same amount of alcohol as a standard drink of distilled spirits, such as whisky, vodka, or rum. That is a problem for anyone who cares about public health and safety.
According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which guides federal nutrition policy in the United States, one standard drink or "drink equivalent" contains 0.6 ounces of alcohol. Examples of standard drinks include 12 fluid ounces of regular beer at 5% alcohol, 5 fluid ounces of wine at 12% alcohol, 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits at 40% alcohol, or 12 fluid ounces of an RTD at 5% alcohol.
Each of these contain the same amount of ethanol, the pure alcohol that is in all beverage alcohol, and research has shown that the effects of ethanol on the body are the same, regardless of whether it is in distilled spirits, wine, or beer products.
This standard drink definition is used throughout the federal government, including by all leading public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As the CDC explains: "it is the amount of alcohol consumed that affects a person most, not the type."
Statements and policies that suggest beer and wine should be treated differently than spirits send a dangerous message that some forms of alcohol are "softer" than others. That is simply not the case. And it is also not the case that all spirits products have higher alcohol by volume (ABV) than other alcohol products. For example, many craft beers now contain 7%, 9%, or even as high as 28% ABV. Meanwhile, there are many canned/pre-mixed cocktails in the marketplace with alcohol levels at 5% ABV or less.
The importance of this issue was reinforced in July, with the release of a new global research study published in The Lancet, which looked at the potential benefits and risks associated with alcohol consumption.
The study, conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, found that globally, there are significant variations in potential health effects with different levels of consumption; and it underscored the need for alcohol recommendations that are tailored to specific regions and populations. Here in the U.S., the Dietary Guidelines for Americans define moderate drinking as two standard drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women, and state that some adults should not drink at all.
The clearly defined standard drink amounts contained in the Dietary Guidelines serve as a reference point to help consumers determine how much alcohol they are consuming and assist them in following these recommendations.
The distilled spirits sector is committed to doing its part to get this information to consumers. The Distilled Spirits Council has long partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to disseminate the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines and has also recently launched a consumer site, StandardDrinks.org, which includes an interactive calculator to input the volume and the ABV of a beverage to see how it measures up to one standard drink.
There have never been more choices for adult beverage alcohol consumers, and that is a great thing. But knowing the amount of alcohol in your drink and how it relates to a standard drink is the key to responsible consumption - not whether your drink is made from malt, sugar cane, grapes, or grains.
Dr. Amanda Berger is Vice President for Science and Health at the Distilled Spirits Council.
By virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution of Virginia in the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is hereby officially recognized:
ALCOHOL AWARENESS MONTH
WHEREAS, a recent Virginia Youth Survey found that more than 15 percent of Virginia students reported having their first full drink of alcohol before age 13 and more than 25 percent of Virginia high school students had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more of the past 30 days; and,
WHEREAS, more than 15 percent of adults in Virginia binge drink according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and,
WHEREAS, last year there were 6,259 alcohol related crashes resulting in 3,908 injuries and 239 fatalities in Virginia according to preliminary data; and,
WHEREAS, alcohol consumption has increased nationally during the COVID-19 pandemic; and,
WHEREAS, in Virginia we must increase awareness of issues related to alcohol and promote public safety through the responsible sale and regulation of alcoholic beverages and provide resources for individuals and organizations to reduce underage and high-risk drinking; and,
WHEREAS, alcohol education and prevention programming can help communities, families and friends support the development of a healthy relationship with alcohol; and,
WHEREAS, Alcohol Awareness Month is a national observance held every April to increase public awareness and understanding about the dangers associated with alcohol consumption, which is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Glenn Youngkin, do hereby recognize April 2022 as ALCOHOL AWARENESS MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of our citizens.