Columbia’s City Council discussed the possibility of regulating drink specials at Monday night’s meeting. The Columbia Police Department and Public Health and Human Services presented a report outlining different outcomes of intoxication, which the council requested in March of 2018.
The report included a chart with the number of alcohol-related reports in 2017 from the Columbia Police Department, and stated 24 percent of reports taken in the downtown sub-beat (70D) were alcohol related. This is the section of the city where the alcohol concentration is most dense.
It outlined recommendations for the city council to enforce from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. They include prohibiting the sale of an unlimited number of servings of alcohol for one fixed price or cover charge, two-for-one deals, specials like lady’s night and more.
The report also said the number of underage students consuming alcohol at bars ranged from 27 percent in 2012 to 55 percent in 2018.
The Substance Abuse Advisory Commission’s report said limitations on drink specials could reduce excessive drinking, underage drinking, alcohol-related crashes and crime. It also said the restrictions could improve health outcomes.
The report said other college cities around the United States like Athens, Georgia; Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Iowa City, Iowa enforce similar regulations on drink specials. The state of Missouri does not have alcohol regulations.
Ward 4 Council Member Ian Thomas sent a statement about the possible regulation.
“I am concerned about the proliferation of ‘drinks specials’ in student-oriented bars and the negative impact they are having on downtown ambience and the safety and health of consumers. Staff from the City’s Health, Human Services and Police Departments presented a thorough report on these issues and possible mitigation steps last night – I am interested in exploring the idea of allowing ‘drinks specials’ up until a certain time in the evening (say, 9pm) and then prohibiting them.”
Harold Moore is a junior at the University of Missouri. He said the proposed regulations would make it more expensive for people to buy drinks, and less people would go to downtown bars as a result.
He did say, however, the proposed regulations would help keep people safe.
“I guess less people would get like extremely blackout drunk,” Moore said. “It would curve binge drinking, alcohol poisoning and just unhealthy drinking habits.”
Moore said he would recommend the council push the regulation back to begin at 10:30 p.m. rather than 9 p.m. He said the changes would hurt the bars more than anyone because people will drink more alcohol before actually going to the bars.
“It just makes you pregame even harder,” he said.