What Is Alcohol and Why Is It Regulated?

Alcohol is produced naturally by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches found in grains, fruits, and vegetables. An additional process of evaporation and condensation is used to create distilled spirits and liquor. The alcohol content of distilled spirits is greater than that of beers and wines. The alcohol in alcoholic beverages is called ethanol.

Alcohol is enjoyed by many, but it is also linked to health and behavioral problems that affect people individually and as a society. The connection between heavy alcohol use and certain health problems and injuries is well-researched and documented.

Besides creating an orderly system of alcohol production, distribution, and sales, alcohol policy is intended to protect public health and safety and to promote lower-risk behaviors. A few examples of this are: setting blood alcohol level limits for alcohol-impaired driving, prohibiting underage buying and use of alcohol, limiting hours of alcohol sales, and prohibiting sales to apparently intoxicated persons.

While regulation does not prevent all public health harms from alcohol use, strong evidence-based policies contribute to healthier, safer communities for all. 



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