Albuquerque, New Mexico (October 3, 2006)--The first study to look at the public health impact of lifting a statewide ban on Sunday packaged alcohol sales found a substantial increase in alcohol-related traffic crashes and fatalities, according to an article published today in the online version of the American Journal of Public Health.
According to the study, since New Mexico lifted its ban on Sunday sales of packaged alcohol, there has been a 29 percent increase in alcohol-related crashes and a 42 percent increase in alcohol-related crash fatalities on Sundays. This increase has meant an additional 543 alcohol-related crashes and 42 alcohol-related crash deaths during five years after the ban was lifted.
Delaware, Maine, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia have lifted similar bans since 1998, despite the lack of data on the impact of such legislation. And many of the 15 states with current bans on Sunday alcohol sales are considering repeal--in response to both pressures from the alcohol industry and the need to raise state tax revenues, according to the study.
"For the first time, we have real data on whether blue laws actually protect public health" said study co-author Dr. Garnett McMillan of the Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "Today's study finds that the Sunday ban saved lives and prevented hundreds of injuries and fatalities from alcohol-related crashes."
The study, "Legalized Sunday packaged alcohol sales and alcohol-related traffic crashes and crash fatalities in New Mexico" was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP).
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, New Mexico ranked 8th in the nation in 2005 for alcohol-related crash fatalities per vehicle-mile driven. Prior to July 1, 1995, alcohol could only be purchased in New Mexico bars and restaurants on Sundays. But on that
Contact: Jeff Haskins