MSU expert worries about drinking during pandemic

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Dr. Debra Furr-Holden is the Associate Dean of Public Health Integration at Michigan State University.

Furr-Holden is worried about the amount of drinking during the pandemic.

“Alcohol sales are up,” Furr-Holden said.

Last year in an effort to help bars and restaurants who were really struggling during the pandemic, Michigan lifted restrictions and started allowing alcohol carryout and delivery options.

Furr-Holden believes that move may have been short sighted.

“In order to address the real sort of business impact of this pandemic on bars and restaurants and major grocery stores, we’ve increased alcohol availability but we’ve not done anything to counterbalance availability with prevention,” Furr-Holden said.

Ed Huston owns BrickHaven Brewing Company in Grand Ledge. 

“Usually it’s just people coming in to pick up a four-pack,” Furr-Holden said. “It’s not somebody coming in and saying give me 87 beers so it’s kind of self-regulated itself honestly.”

Huston said it’s been the carry out alcohol sales that have been a lifeboat for his business– and many others.

“They’ve been fantastic,” Huston said. “People send us pictures all the time saying we’re having BrickHaven’s reuben sandwich and we’re having a couple of BrickHaven beers at our own kitchen table. So it’s great there was just a lot of love from folks supporting us.”

Huston said employees always check ID’s and haven’t had a problem so far. But Furr-Holden still worries minors could take advantage of the recent law adding alcohol carry out and delivery options for restaurants across the state.  

“Allowing businesses to sell to-go cocktails without putting in any types of measures to ensure those cocktails aren’t making it disproportionately into the hands of young people and that it’s not accelerating the rates of alcohol abuse and other associated harms in our community was a problem,” Furr-Holden said.

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