The state of Oregon is a great place to drink. There are more craft distilleries in the state than in Kentucky. Portland has more than one beer brewery.

Problem drinking is a problem in Oregon. According to the Oregon Health Authority, 2,153 people died of alcohol-related causes last year, more than any other drug.

The toll of drugs is not taken into account when it comes to the deaths of people who drink themselves to death. Alcoholism has taken a backseat.

Legislators in Oregon made it easier to drink as the Pandemic raged on. They legalized the sale of to-go cocktails and made it easier for wineries to ship directly to consumers.

The policies were described by the director of the commission. He said that they wanted to create an environment that was pro-business, but they had something else.

Bars and restaurants weren't allowed to deliver liquor to customers at home before Covid lockdowns, according to a trade association. The rules have been loosened by 28.

Policies that are considered to be the most effective at controlling excessive drinking have been ignored. As alcohol-related deaths soared to record highs in the last few years, alcohol taxes fell to the lowest levels in a generation.

Credit...Celeste Noche for The New York Times

National data on the change in Americans' drinking habits has only recently been made available. In the fiscal year that ended in September, alcohol tax revenues increased by eight percent.

The number of deaths caused by drinking spiked in 2020 compared to the previous year. Every state has seen the deaths rise for decades. The rate of alcohol-related deaths in Oregon increased 2.5 times from 1999 to 2020 after adjusting for age distribution.

She said that her son, Jonathon, worked as a pharmacy tech at Oregon Health Sciences University despite his addiction to alcohol. His biggest weakness was cheap beer and white wine. He didn't drink hard alcohol because he thought he wasn't an alcoholic. He died in a cheap hotel.

Studies have shown that moderate drinking poses a health risk. Men and women should not drink more than two drinks a day, according to the CDC.

The chief of emergency medicine at Kaiser Permanente's two hospitals in the Portland area estimated that 10% to 30% of his patients had illnesses or injuries related to drinking. He said that it has always been a big problem and that it is getting to be a bigger problem.

Substance use has been addressed by education and treatment in Oregon. A ballot measure passed in 2020 that decriminalized possession of small amounts of all drugs diverted hundreds of millions of tax dollars from marijuana to recovery services The campaign was called " Rethink the Drink."

The director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria called educational campaigns a "fig leaf" and said that treatment was akin to parking an ambulance beneath a cliff. He said that measures to prevent excessive drinking are more effective than they are expensive. You need to talk policies if you want to talk about prevention.

Raising the price of alcohol is one of the measures endorsed by the U.S. community preventive services task force. After adjusting for inflation, a can of beer in 2010 costs one-fifth of what it did in 1950, and the cheapest liquor costs one-fifth of what it did.

ImageSonja Grove’s son, Jon.
Sonja Grove’s son, Jon. Credit...Celeste Noche for The New York Times
Sonja Grove’s son, Jon.

Governments can influence the price of alcohol by taxing its producers or sellers. Scores of studies show that taxes on tobacco are a good way to reduce smoking. Studies show that higher alcohol taxes are associated with less excessive drinking. The states reported reductions in binge drinking and car crashes after raising alcohol taxes.

A professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine said studies were consistent. He said there is no question that the tax rate affects how much people drink.

Alcohol taxes in Oregon are low, less than 3 cents per glass of wine and less than a penny per 12-ounce beer. Efforts to raise rates have stopped for a long time.

Wine taxes have not changed since 1983 and beer taxes have not changed since 1977. He was a seventh graders at the time.

Leaving tax rates the same has the effect of decreasing them. Inflation erodes the tax rate when it pushes up prices because Oregon sets alcohol taxes by the volume of the beverage rather than as a percentage of its price. The beer tax in Oregon has lost 80% of its value over the last 45 years.

The state of Oregon has one of the lowest tax rates in the country. She questioned the evidence linking that fact with alcohol related illnesses and injuries.

Ms. LaRue said that her parents drank a lot and died young. She said that her mother drank cheap whiskey and didn't like craftIPAs. She said that if a person has a drinking problem they will find a solution.

Credit...Celeste Noche for The New York Times

Oregon Recovers pushed for a tax increase last year. Mike Marshall is the executive director and has been sober for 14 years.

Oregon Recovers has proved to be an effective force if you want to avoid politics.

The group tried to get the bill sponsored by the state representative. One of the few Native American members of the legislature is open about her own struggle with drinking and said she was motivated in part to address addiction in her community.

She said that the beer and wine industries have fought hard to keep their taxes from going up. I don't think that's fair to other people.

Mr. Marshall said the bill was supported by the state's Health Authority because it was necessary to address alcohol problems in the state. The alcohol industry labeled it a 2,700 percent increase from the state's rates.

The bill didn't make it out of the committee.

The committee that opposed the bill gave more than half a million dollars to local politicians. The measure's demise was a bellwether for public support of such policies.

She doesn't believe that alcohol is evil. I don't believe that message is relevant.

Credit...Celeste Noche for The New York Times

Views about alcohol policies are not always in agreement with one another. Mr. Williams was a Republican when he advocated for a tax increase. He said that this issue is more politicized by ideology than it is by party.

Democrats have been in control of the governor's office and both legislative chambers. The state's prominent progressives don't think the regulatory environment is related to alcohol's harms.

Last year, Senator Ron Wyden led successful efforts to permanently lower federal alcohol taxes. He was named a beer champion.

David Jernigan is a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health and an expert on alcohol. He said that it was good for soap. There are different consequences for alcohol.

Major philanthropists have not invested a lot in initiatives to reduce alcohol-related health risks. The U.S. Alcohol Policy Alliance is a small organization that focuses on reducing alcohol-related harms. Nicole Holt, its chairperson, said that it has an annual budget of less than $50,000. The group could not respond fast enough to the torrent of state laws deregulating alcohol sales after the Pandemic. She said that they had been on their backs.

Alcohol taxes are usually not raised. A bill to increase rates in Hawaii has been promoted by public health advocates since 2020. There was an attempt to raise alcohol taxes in New Mexico last year.

Mr. Marshall wasn't deterred by the long odds. He has a wedding band on his finger. It can happen, according to my life experience.

She took time off to have breast cancer treatment, but she is still a volunteer. She said that nothing can be as bad as the death of a child.

Ms.nchez said she was also not cowed. She feels compelled to continue the discussion because of her experience in recovery.

She wanted to know if they should continue to be anonymous. Is it a good idea to keep it all quiet. I think it's time to talk about it.