Expanded hard liquor sales linked to emergency room trips

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Researchers studying the impact of broader hard liquor sales in Washington state say they have found people are making more alcohol-related trips to emergency rooms.

The News Tribune reports researchers gave a preliminary report Wednesday to the state Liquor Control Board on the effects of Initiative 1183 that has given shoppers access to hard liquor at four times as many stores during twice as many hours.

They found, for example, that during the first 13 months of private-sector spirit sales, kids on Medicaid made a third more visits to emergency rooms for alcohol-related reasons.

In King County, they found about 50 percent more hospital visits were related to alcohol between June 2012 and September 2013.

The researchers estimate liquor sales have grown since the new law took effect, but only by 3 or 4 percent more than sales would have grown otherwise.