Why "Alcohol Justice"?
from Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director/CEO
Alcohol Justice was founded in August 1987 as one of the endowed Buck Trust non-profit agencies "for the benefit of Marin residents and all humankind," as was Beryl H. Buck's will. We were originally called “The Marin Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems.” The focus was on conducting research, developing the field of environmental prevention, presenting leadership trainings, documenting the globalization of alcohol, and exposing the ubiquitous, egregious advertising of the industry. The name was shortened over the years, first to “The Marin Institute,” and later when I came on board in 2006 to "Marin Institute.”
In 2006, our board of directors clarified and focused our role as “The Industry Watchdog,” which is now our new tag line. Big Alcohol, including producers, wholesalers, retailers, and advertisers, is the architect and profit-making beneficiary of alcohol sales. The industry is global, and rapidly becoming concentrated in three giant corporate producers with tremendous advertizing, pricing and lobbying power: Anheuser-Busch Inbev, SAB Miller, and Diageo. Smaller alcohol companies also have accountability problems. Startups such as Phusion Projects and new brands like Blast by Colt45 (Pabst) also pose dangerous threats to public health and safety. New companies constantly pop up with dangerous products and slick marketing.
Our old name, "Marin Institute," is respected but not informative, as we work not just in Marin but globally, and we aren't a research organization as "institute" implies. In order to realize reductions in alcohol-related harm, Alcohol Justice seeks changes in the alcohol industry and the ways it is (and isn't) regulated. We bring research, policy, media, and advocacy together; mobilize coalitions including youth, adults and other community leaders; and campaign to:
- Increase alcohol prices through taxes and fees;
- Remove dangerous, youth-oriented products from the market;
- Restrict alcohol advertisements and promotions; and
- Allow states to use their authority granted in the 21st Amendment to control if, and how, alcohol is sold in their state.
In 2011, as the new "Alcohol Justice," we amplify our commitment to partner with empowered, diverse communities and youth to lead these watchdog efforts. We remain the only organization that directly challenges the political influence and marketing might of global alcohol corporations. Just as the term "environmental justice" entails special harm to communities of color, Alcohol Justice hopes to expose the insidious harm to ethnic communities, women and even the LGBT community from the actions of alcohol corporations.
Alcohol Justice envisions healthy communities free of the alcohol industry’s negative impact. Our new vision is simple, yet will require concerted collective efforts to attain. As Alcohol Justice, we will continue to promote evidence-based public health policies and organize campaigns with diverse communities and youth against the alcohol industry’s harmful practices.
We are excited about our new identity, mission and purpose, and all that they entail. I'd love to hear what you think about the term "alcohol justice" as well:
What does alcohol justice mean to you?
Where do you see the need for alcohol justice in your own community, and worldwide?
Where have you seen communities and organizations succeed in demanding alcohol justice from the industry?
What are the barriers blocking the path toward alcohol justice?
To share your ideas and feedback with us, you can:
*Sign up for Alcohol Justice eNews and Action Alerts
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*Comment on this post and others at alcoholjustice.org
Thank you for being here, whether you joined us in 1987, sometime in the last 24 years, or just recently. We need your help to reduce the epidemic of alcohol-related harm that impacts us all.