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Big Alcohol Dominates Alcohol Regulator Meeting
New Addiction Article Documents Unhealthy Influence of
Alcohol Industry over State Regulators
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (January 24, 2012) – In a peer-reviewed article in the February 2012 issue of Addiction, Sarah Mart, director of research at Alcohol Justice, has documented the alcohol industry’s excessive involvement in a 2010 annual conference of state liquor administrators.
“With alcohol use being the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S, you would think state regulator meetings would focus on the most effective and cost-effective ways to reduce alcohol-related harm,” stated Mart. “But this event was really about the industry’s agenda.”
Mart’s article details her experience at the annual National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA), which took place in June 2010. More than two-thirds (72%) of the 187 meeting attendees, and 65% of the panelists, were from the alcohol industry. The rest represented state alcohol control systems and federal government agencies. Mart was the only participant representing public health policy.
“The NCSLA is dominated by the global companies that produce, import, distribute and sell alcohol,” said Mart. “Not surprisingly, the Association’s liquor control agenda lacks public health considerations.”
On average, 79,000 deaths annually are attributed to alcohol consumption. In 2005, there were over 1.6 million hospitalizations and 4 million emergency room visits for alcohol-related causes. Alcohol-related costs to state budgets are staggering, yet this trade organization of state regulators, which could play an important role in reducing the harm, has no stated position supporting public health.
“Big Alcohol panelists actually sent regulators a warning message: Be industry-friendly. Don’t rock the boat of commerce with public health concerns, or your job may be on the line,” reported Mart. “The Federal officials that were present also spoke about supporting the industry, instead of protecting public safety. That was a disappointment.”
The article concludes that public health needs to become a permanent agenda item for alcohol regulator trade groups, and state regulators need to join with public health allies to support evidence-based strategies to reduce alcohol-related harm, instead of merely providing a clear path for industry to achieve sales and profits. To read Mart’s article, and for additional information on the benefits of State Control, visit www.AlcoholJustice.org