According to a Deseret Morning News article yesterday Utahn’s are drinking more hard alcohol- 62% more. Much of this may be attributed to the growing population, and the fact that many people who are moving into the state are not members of the LDS faith, which teaches abstinence from alcohol, says Sam Otterstrom, a Brigham Young University geology professor. Mr Otterstrom also notes that the number of LDS members who consider themselves “Very active” in the church has declined in the last decade.
The number of tourists visiting the state has also increased substantially. In 1996 Utah had 17 Million visitors from out of state. In 2005 it had 18.2 million- an increase of 7.1 percent, according to the Utah Office of Tourism.
Kenneth Wynn, director of the Utah Department of Alcohol Beverage Control says, “After the Olympics, we were discovered. There are more tourists.The Sundance Film Festival got bigger.” Attendance at the festival went from 15,500 in 1996 to 53,000 in 2006.
Making the list of drinks growing by the highest percentage over the last decade are rum 107%), wine (63%), Vodka (54%), Tequila (52%) and Brandy (42%). The highest increase of consumption was with heavy beer, or beer that is purchased at the state liquor store and has a higher alcohol content than the beer bought in supermarkets and gas stations. Heavy beer consumption has increased by 139% over the same period.
Despite the increase of alcolhol consumption Utahns still drink the least of all Americans.
Quoted from the article:
“Estimates from the Beer Institute for alcohol of all types ranked Utah dead last among states in per capita consumption, at 14 gallons per person. The next lowest state is Kansas at 20.7 gallons. Nevada was No.1 with 40.4 gallons per person or 78 percent higher than in Utah.”
The increased alcohol consuption, and the 13% special assessment tax that goes along with it has filled state coffers. The general tax fund has seen an increase from alcohol from $22 to $47 Million and the school lunch program, for which the tax was intended, has seen an increase from $10 to over $20.5 Million.