Iowa Liquor Commission discusses rising alcohol-related deaths

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) – The Iowa Liquor Commission is responsible for policies regarding liquor licensing and state regulations.

The commission usually meets in Des Moines, but this year it is moving its meetings statewide.

The Iowa Liquor Commission meets Thursday at the Full-fledged brewery at Council Bluffs. Managers say it’s good to get out of the office.

“We’ve been kind of locked down for the past couple of years because of COVID and we’ve joined virtually this year, we’re looking to hit the road,” said Denise Roberg, Iowa Division of Alcoholic Beverages.

One of the topics discussed at today’s meeting was the rising number of alcohol-related deaths in the state.

“I think it’s really important that this meeting takes place at Council Bluffs in our area. I think it’s really great that they’ve come all the way from Des Moines to have this meeting here and I certainly think it’s really important to look at this from a public health perspective. For us, it’s not about being anti-corporate or anti-industry or anti-alcohol, it’s about partnering and collaborating to prevent alcohol-related deaths.

The report highlights that the number of alcohol-related deaths in Iowa is on the rise.

Lorelle Mueting is Director of Prevention at Heartland Family Services.

“I think at the start of the pandemic we saw a lot of it on social media and in the papers like hey come on let’s drink in the aisle someday okay we don’t have nothing to do we don’t not working, we’re not going to work, the world is kind of closed,” Mueting said.

Lorelle will discuss a study of the Iowa Department of Public Health with Commissioners pointing out that a growing number of Iowans have alcohol problems and she believes the pandemic is playing a major role in the rise in alcohol-related deaths.

“The pandemic has caused a lot of mental health issues for people and alcohol has traditionally been a way for people to cope with stress, anxiety, depression etc. So I think one of the reasons we’re seeing this increase in alcohol use deaths, I think we’re also seeing an increase in addiction,” Mueting said.

Officials say middle-aged adults are leading the rise in alcohol-related deaths.

Lorelle says she really wasn’t surprised report found at least 760 lives lost due to alcohol-related cases in 2020against 598 deaths in 2019.

“I wish I could say yes, but it looked like it was going to happen as we continued to go through the pandemic and I know we’re talking about adult alcohol, but I think for our young people, we’ve seen our les young people vaping through this pandemic.

Iowa officials believe alcohol-related deaths can be reduced by raising the price of alcohol and limiting where you can buy liquor and beer and continuing to educate the public On the question.

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