"Drowning your sorrows" a recession myth

April 1, 2009 1:08:38 PM PDT
You might have heard the recent headline - more bankers being treated for serious alcohol problems.

But one group with the most at stake - the liquor industry - says the recession is actually causing people to drink less.

It's a complete myth that people drink more during recessions. In fact, just the opposite is true," said David Ozgo, the Distilled Spirits Council's chief economist, who has studied recessions since the 1970s. Liquor sales nationally started slowing in 2007 and dropped 5 percent to 10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008.

If the Spirits Council's numbers bear out, it would indicate the country might end up healthier as a whole for its troubles

?Nine percent of U.S. consumers have cut down on smoking and 14 percent have cut down on alcohol or bought cheaper brands, according to a February Nielsen Co. report.

?Consumers were eating out and drinking less in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared with 2007. Also, more wine was sold by the glass than by the bottle, according to a report from the National Restaurant Association. The Beer Institute, a trade group representing brewers, reported that beer sales dropped about 2 percent in restaurants and bars in 2008, though less expensive store sales of beer rose about 1 percent.

?Some states report tax revenue from cigarette sales plunged during the last half of 2008.

And some branches of the American Lung Association are receiving more calls from people seeking help to stop smoking. Their motivation - the high cost of smoking, especially with the new higher federal cigararette tax.

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