Jun 8, 2021 - Health

Trump's surgeon general criticizes alcohol-related vaccine incentives

Adams is vaccinated
Adams receives the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 18, 2020. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Jerome Adams, the U.S. surgeon general under former President Trump, criticized states who are offering lottery tickets, beer and donuts as prizes for getting the coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Adams said he was "uncomfortable" with the "public health trade offs" involved with certain kinds of vaccine incentives, pointing to a report put out by the current surgeon general warning about the health effects of alcohol consumption.

Driving the news: Washington state announced Monday that it would allow vaccinated adults to take home a free marijuana joint, in a campaign called "Joints for Jabs," per the New York Times. Recreational use has been legal in the state since 2012.

  • Anheuser-Busch announced last week it's partnering with the White House to offer its "biggest beer giveaway ever" if the U.S. reaches President Biden's goal of having 70% of adults partially vaccinated by July 4.
  • A number of other states and companies are offering cash prices and other more creative vaccine incentives.

What he's saying: "Do public health advocates who’ve tried to raise the alarm about the health complications of increasing alcohol consumption really not have a problem with a federally sanctioned beer giveaway?" Adams tweeted.

  • "I’m all for incentives/ rewards, and I’m not against people making personal choices to drink, but even the current Surgeon General put out a report warning about the health effects of alcohol consumption. Donuts, gambling (lottery tickets)… Are cigarettes next?" he added.
  • "I’ve tried to hold off as I know my message is likely to be seen by some as attacking the administration, but I’m not. I’m just really starting to get uncomfortable with the public health trade offs here. And the messages we’re subtly sending our youth. Is it really worth it?"

Go deeper: States deploy carrots to drive up coronavirus vaccination rates

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