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July 14, 1989

Surgeon General's Final Target: Drunk Driving

JAMA. 1989;262(2):181. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430020019006

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ATTEMPTING TO COPE with an estimated 24 000 deaths and 534 000 injuries from alcohol-related traffic crashes, Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD, is calling, among other things, for a reduction in the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration to 0.04%, an increase in liquor taxes, and limits on the way that alcohol can be advertised. The recommendations result from an earlier workshop on drunken driving (JAMA. 1989;261:819). Koop—who has just completed his final week on the job—says the report is being sent to Congress for action.

"I want Congress to provide leadership and resources to implement the recommendations," he said. Last year both houses of Congress adopted resolutions that urged the Surgeon General to declare drunk driving a national crisis and to try to bring the problem under control. Industry officials have expressed doubt that alcohol advertising will face restrictions similar to those imposed on cigarette advertisements.