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4 A.M. Bar Bill Keeps Moving Forward As New Report Finds Up to $1 Billion In Costs from Late Last Calls

A woman experience the delights of late last callsDespite passionate opposition and alarming new research, SB 58 (aka the 4 A.M. Bar Bill) continues to make its way through the California legislature, passing the California State Assembly Committee on Governmental Operations (GO) by a narrow vote. The bill seeks to set up an ersatz “pilot program” that would allow 10 cities across California to establish 4 a.m. last call times for bars and nightclubs. Two previous versions of SB 58 stalled out in previous years. Hopes that this year’s Assembly GO would follow their lead have so far proven fruitless.

Assembly GO Committee member Tom Lackey, a former California Highway Patrol Officer, spoke passionately about the concerns law enforcement has with extending last calls. “I have direct knowledge of the tragedy that’s associated when alcohol-impaired driving is coupled with the extreme fatigue that we also see in drivers between 2 and 4 a.m,” Assemblymember Lackey said. “Through this legislation we will extend the hours of most danger and that is terrible, reprehensible, abhorrent, scary, and should be denounced.”

Assemblymember Lackey’s fears were reinforced by a new analysis conducted by the Oakland-based Alcohol Research Group (ARG), and released the day before the vote. The report looked at the potential impact on Los Angeles from extended last call times and found staggering costs associated with the bill. Assuming only 5% of the eligible establishments in Los Angeles opt to stay open to 4 a.m., the projected costs from the additional alcohol sales top $266 million over 5 years. If 20% of the eligible bars opt in, the costs go over $1 billion.

Those are only the estimated costs per drink. The actual harms—what Governor Jerry Brown termed the “mischief and mayhem” when he vetoed a nearly identical bill last year—skyrocket as well. The ARG team found that a 4 a.m. last call, if universally adopted in the city, would result in 18,934 more violent crimes, 2,741 alcohol-related arrests, 3,237 DUIs, 809 motor vehicle crashes, and an astonishing 94,147 ambulance calls.

These figures, staggering as they are, were not enough to sway the committee, which passed the bill by one vote. “SB 58 is nothing more than another greedy grab for more profits by promoting binge drinking in the wee hours of the morning,” said Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director/CEO of Alcohol Justice. “Alcohol Justice applauds those committee members who voted ‘no,’ and those who stayed off the bill. We urge the rest of the Assembly to do what the GO committee failed at and stop this dangerous experiment.”

The bill moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee next. Alcohol Justice urges all concerned allies to take action at the link below and tell Appropriations to stop this reckless bill before the harm is on our doorstep.

TAKE ACTION to tell your legislators to stop this bill.

READ MORE about the expected costs of the 4 A.M. Bar Bill.

READ MORE about how the Assembly GO Committee let down California.

GUEST VOICES: Time for Opioid Makers to Pay Their Share

by Ramon Castellblanch, Ph.D., President, Quality Healthcare Concepts, Inc.

oxycontinWith AB 1468 (McCarty), opioid manufacturers and distributors will begin to pay California to help stop the deaths and misery caused by the opioid epidemic, off of which these businesses have so highly profited. For two decades, opioid manufacturers and distributors have irresponsibly promoted opioids. Opioid-makers like the Sackler family-owned Purdue Pharma have pleaded guilty to misleading regulators, doctors and patients about their opioid Oxycontin’s risk of addiction and its potential to be abused. Opioid distributors like Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen have settled lawsuits that they were shipping opioids to “pill mill” pharmacies that dispense excessive numbers of painkillers.

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New York City Bans Booze Ads

nycbusstopIn a surprising but much-needed executive order, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio banned alcohol advertisements on city-owned property. Following on the heels of the city’s decision to remove booze ads from public transit (including buses and subway trains), the new order does the same to bus shelters, newsstands, and other street properties.

“What underpins this order is a close review of the science,” Dr. Hillary Kunins, Acting Executive Deputy Health Commissioner for the city of New York, told the New York Times. “The major studies show that exposure to alcohol advertising influences drinking, particularly in youth.”

The Times reports a high level of alcohol harm in New York City, citing 2,000 alcohol-related deaths and 110,000 emergency room visits yearly. This chronic source of death, injury, and lost productivity has a cost that may equal or exceed the revenue lost from the ad ban.

New York City is not the first major American city to make this calculation. Similar outdoor advertising bans have gone into effect in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, the latter two with the involvement of Alcohol Justice and the Los Angeles Drug and Alcohol Policy Alliance.

“We commend Mayor de Blasio for taking strong action to protect residents of New York,” said Jorge Castillo, Advocacy Director at Alcohol Justice. “Outdoor ads are a blight that takes vulnerable lives. We need lawmakers in every city to stand up and take on Big Alcohol.”

READ MORE about getting rid of outdoor alcohol advertising.

READ MORE about the fight for an alcohol ad-free Los Angeles.