La Crosse considers banning unlimited drink specials at bars

LA CROSSE (AP) - The La Crosse City Council is considering banning "all you can drink" specials.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit selling an unlimited amount of alcohol for a fixed price, selling three or more drinks for the price of one and contests involving alcohol, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

La Crosse officials say they expect support from business owners and the community for the proposal.

"(Bar owners) don't like the environment where you have these `all-you-can-drink specials' because it's hard competitively," said Councilman Bob Seaquist. "You have people who have been at these (events), and then come into their bar, and they're not servable or sober, and they're breaking furniture, vandalizing, whatever else."

Seaquist said excessive drinking isn't a new problem in La Crosse, but that little has been done to address it.

"This is something that has been talked about, people realize it every time we have someone drown, every time there's a serious alcohol-related accident," Seaquist said.

According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Population Health Institute, 26 percent of La Crosse County adults report excess drinking. That's one of the highest percentages in Wisconsin.

"Wisconsin is always among the worst for binge drinking across the U.S., so it kind of ranks (La Crosse) among the worst of the worst," said Kate Konkle, associate researcher at the institute.

She said similar restrictions on drink specials have had positive results in other communities.

"There is some evidence that this in fact does reduce excessive drinking, and that it may also potentially reduce underage drinking, reduce alcohol related crashes, and improve health outcomes," Konkle said.

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