GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – We get a lot of polls and surveys and data analyses here at We try to sort through them and share those that we think have significant news value or those we think can be quirky and make for interesting discussion topics. We try to be responsible in what we share.

So in these past couple of weeks we have received an array of new surveys that, when collated, appear to create what some might see as a conflicting and perhaps even troubling picture of North Carolinians and our views toward alcohol consumption.

Weighty issues about North Carolinians (and all of us) and drinking. (WGHP FILE)

Consider this thesis assimilated from the surveys provided:

Some North Carolinians have not stopped drinking for very long once they started, and the average person would agree to gain 11 pounds just to continue to be able to continue drinking. But a lot of us think there should be zero tolerance for drinking and driving, and about 1 in 4 of us want stricter sales of alcohol. The bottom line is this: If we are going on a spring break trip, we’re going to stay sober.

Read that again. Is your head spinning? The same people who say they were willing to put on 11 pounds just to continue to drink and don’t stop doing so for very long have strict views on laws and won’t be drinking at spring break, where everyone drinks.

Got it? We do. We think.

To understand this, we will provide each piece of research and what it says. Maybe you will see something bigger than we missed.

The headlines were provided by the pollsters.

1 in 5 North Carolina drinkers have never had a prolonged break from alcohol since they started drinking, survey finds. 

Most people who start drinking at the legal age of 21 continue to do so for a lifetime, and for many, that is in a literal sense. A survey of 3,255 respondents 21 and older by American Addiction Centers found that almost 1 in 5 drinkers in North Carolina admit they’ve never taken a prolonged break from drinking. Efforts such as Dry January, Sober October or #SoberCurious were mentioned.

Most respondents (42%) said they would give up beer, and 16% said they would give up “alcopops” (sweet drinks with low alcohol content that taste like soda, juice or an energy drink), but those are calorie-based decisions. About 15% said, if they had to decide, they would give up spirits, 13% would abstain from wine and another 13% would quit cocktails for a month-long period. Most cited health concerns are why.

Good points: We are better than the national average of 19% and much better than Minnesota, where 1 in 3 roughly have not taken much of a break.

Bad point: In Delaware almost everyone (93%) has taken a break. We don’t know why.

The average North Carolinian is prepared to gain 11 lbs in order to continue drinking alcohol, finds study. sought the answers from 4,205 respondents. Those 11 pounds were analogous “to carrying around 176 slices of bacon in your body,” the pollsters said in their release.

Two good things:

  • We are better than a study by that found that the average American drinker would be willing to give up three years of life to continue to drink. Hmmm, die three years earlier or put on 11 pounds? Not a weighty decision.
  • North Carolinians have better judgment than Rhode Islanders. Those northern folks said they would be willing to put on 28 pounds to drink. So that’s nearly 500 slices of bacon in their pockets?

1 in 3 North Carolinians think there should be a ‘zero tolerance’ law on drinking and driving, reveals poll. asked 3,445people about statewide zero tolerance and found that 2 out of 3 found driving penalties were not sufficiently stringent. Some 38% of North Carolinians support the idea of setting the tolerance for drunk drivers – those over the legal limits – at zero, which beats a national average of 33%. Nationally women were far more supportive of the concept (40% vs. 28%).

Good point: In 2018 Utah implemented the strictest blood-alcohol levels in the country, dropping from .08% (which is most states’ norms) to .05%. Utah cited an 18.3% decrease in fatal accidents.

Bad point: About 1 in 4 admitted they would drive the morning after a big night of drinking. The time variance wasn’t mentioned, so we don’t know if the next morning is 1 a.m. or 10 a.m.

1 in 4 North Carolinians would support stricter alcohol sale laws, study finds.

Desert Hope Treatment Center surveyed a whopping 6,143 people and found that about 1 in 4 from North Carolina (26%) would support stricter laws on the sale of alcohol, such as limiting sales to certain days of the week or times of the day. The national average was 22%.

Nearly half of New Mexicans (48%) wanted stricter laws, but only 1 in 10 Montana residents did. Older people were more in favor of being strict (32% of those 65 and older, 31% of 55-64). About 75% of 18-24-year-olds were against stricter rules.

Two key points:

  • Nearly a third of people said that alcohol companies are too aggressive in their marketing.
  • About 16% said they bought alcohol because of that marketing.

Half of North Carolina students are planning a sober Spring Break this year, survey finds.

OK, this one had us scratching our heads: asked 3,145 college students about their plans for spring break, and more than half of North Carolinians (52%) said they would not be drinking alcohol this spring break. And nationally that number was only slightly lower (47%). That contradicts a lot with what we have seen and heard out of South Florida at least. Miami Beach put in a curfew for spring breakers.

Delaware again is noteworthy, with its students tying with Arkansas’ in saying that 2 out of 3 would not be drinking this spring. In New Hampshire, only 15% said they would eliminate alcohol.

Two key points:

  • More than half (56%) of respondents said they think alcohol sales should be restricted after 2 a.m. About 25% of those who had been on spring break in the past said they felt pressure to drink alcohol.
  • About 3 in 4 (73%) of everyone who is planning a vacation this spring will be avoiding any locations popular among students. That includes Miami (32%), Daytona Beach (17%), South Padre Island (14%) and Panama City (12%).

Alternative vice: North Carolina smokers would accept no less than a $7,930 cash incentive to quit, reveals study.

We are adding this point for balance, because it shows a whole different attitude about a whole different vice. Oklahoma Smokes, which says it is a product for people trying to quit tobacco, surveyed 3,595 smokers to find out how many dollars would persuade them to quit. The average smoker in North Carolina would need no less than $7,930 from a federal program. You can compare that to the national average of $9,080. Sounds more like how much they would SAVE from giving up the cost of tobacco.

Researchers say that in the U.S. smoking-related illness costs more than $300 billion each year, or about $8,832 for each of the approximately 34 million smokers. So maybe the ask is about right. Wide math: Smokers in Vermont said they would accept $1,694, but in Hawaii the cost would be $16,500.

Two points:

  • About 15% of smokers in North Carolina said they feel ostracized by their habit. That was slightly more pertinent among women nationally (18%) than men (16%).
  • Middle-aged smokers felt more ostracized than those younger than 35 or older than 55.