• Press Release: Marin Institute Renamed Alcohol Justice

    Contact: Michael Scippa 415 548-0492
    Jorge Castillo 213 840-3336

    New Alcohol Brand: Marin Institute Renamed 'Alcohol Justice'

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA (July 27, 2011) – The alcohol industry watchdog formerly known as Marin Institute is now called, 'Alcohol Justice.' The 24 year-old advocacy and research nonprofit made the announcement today as it launched a dynamic new web site at and a series of updated fact sheets painting a picture of devastating alcohol-related harm.

    "The old name, 'Marin Institute,' is respected but not very informative," stated Bruce Lee Livingston, executive director and CEO of bruce-lee-livingstonthe organization. "Alcohol Justice organizes campaigns around the nation and globe to reduce alcohol-related harm. Our new name shows that we are vigilant, fair and laser-focused."

    Alcohol Justice seeks changes in the alcohol industry and the ways it is and isn't regulated. The organization combines research, policy, media, and advocacy to mobilize coalitions campaigning to:

                    • Increase alcohol prices through taxes and fees
                    • Remove dangerous, youth-oriented products from the market
                    • Restrict alcohol advertisements and promotion.

    cathy-summa-wolfe"Alcohol industry practices designed to target youth can have especially devastating effects on kids, families, and communities," said Cathy Summa-Wolfe, Alcohol Justice board president. "Alcohol Justice holds alcohol corporations accountable."

    Alcohol Justice promises to continue to be a thorn in the side of the corporations they call 'Big Alcohol.' Led by foreign-owned Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller, and Diageo, together these global conglomerates control over 80% of the U.S. market and wield tremendous political power. Smaller alcohol companies are also watchdogged by Alcohol Justice, including startups such as Phusion Projects (makers of Four Loko) and the new Snoop Dogg-pitched Blast by Colt 45. Both alcopop products pose serious public health and safety threats with supersized containers and triple the alcohol content of beer.

    "We selected 'Alcohol Justice' to amplify our commitment to empower diverse communities and youth to hold Big Alcohol accountable," added Livingston. "Alcohol Justice is proud to be the watchdog that directly challenges the political influence and marketing might of global alcohol corporations."


  • New Report Asks, Are Alcohol Companies Making Illegal Health Claims?


    Contact: Michael Scippa 415 548-0492
    Jorge Castillo 213 840-3336



    Drink beer to lose weight? Muscle-up with a vodka tonic?
    Latest Deceptive and Dangerous Marketing Trend by Big Alcohol

    New Report Asks, Are Alcohol Companies Making Illegal Health Claims?


    SAN FRANCISCO, CA (June 28, 2011) – Alcohol Justice, the alcohol industry watchdog, released a new study today: Questionable Health Claims by Alcohol Companies: From Protein Vodka to Weight-Loss Beer. The report analyzes Big Alcohol’s latest marketing scheme to jump on the healthy product bandwagon made popular by the food industry. But, the report concludes, when it comes to alcoholic beverages, such marketing messages are “legally tenuous, morally unsound, and potentially dangerous.

    The wine industry has been exaggerating wine’s health benefits for years. Now Big Alcohol is taking such messages to a whole new level,” said Marin Institute’s Research and Policy Director Michele Simon, JD, MPH and coauthor of the report. “Major alcohol companies are exploiting ineffective or non-existent regulatory oversight with deceptive marketing and potentially dangerous products.”

    Alcohol brands spotlighted in the report include Devotion Vodka (“Infused with Casein”), Fragoli strawberry liqueur (promoted with antioxidants), Absolut, Skyy, and Finlandia vodkas (“infused with natural flavors”), Michelob Ultra, and MGD 64 beer (promoted as fitness and weight-loss aids). Ad campaigns for these products included claims that defy science and common sense. Using terms like “vitamin B enhanced,” “antioxidant nutrients,” and “all-natural,” combined with images of fruit or young athletes running or cycling, these products are promoted as logical compliments to a healthy, fitness-oriented lifestyle, without a hint of irony.

    Alcohol is not a health and wellness product,” added Simon. “Even moderate consumption is responsible for a wide range of health problems, including heart disease and various cancers, not to mention an epidemic of underage drinking. Alcohol is not a health tonic; it can cause life-long suffering and destroy families. Where are those messages?

    Given the blatant lack of industry oversight from a failed voluntary self-regulatory system, today Marin Institute is sending a copy of the report to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to demand increased oversight and legal action to stop these obviously deceptive marketing claims.

    Janna Brancolini, the report’s co-author, notes the companies seemed to have something to hide: “Most companies I identified in my research declined my requests for interviews to explain their marketing practices.” Since the research was completed, Lotus Vodka has gone out of business, while Devotion Vodka now has a legal disclaimer on their website. Devotion Vodka has also apparently blocked author Michele Simon from following the company on Twitter.


  • Why "Alcohol Justice"?


    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
    *Like Alcohol Justice on Facebook
    *Follow @AlcoholJustice on Twitter
    *Subscribe to the Alcohol Justice YouTube channel
    *Connectto us on Linkedin
    *Commenton this post and others at

    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.

  • Our New Name and Vision: Alcohol Justice

    We are now called "Alcohol Justice," the one and only alcohol industry watchdog. Our laser focus is on the world's most harmful drug, and the companies that make and market it. This rebranding of Marin Institute reflects our global mission: To hold the industry accountable for the harm alcohol inflicts upon our many diverse communities. We use research, media and organizing to expose the industry's products and practices, and actively advocate for effective policies such as increasing alcohol prices, restricting youth-oriented products, limiting ubiquitous and inappropriate alcohol advertising, and supporting state alcohol control.

    Click here to learn more about our new name, "Alcohol Justice."

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  • NTSB Issues Recommendations to Eliminate Drunk Driving

    NTSB Issues Recommendations to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving 
    Call to Action: Reduce Illegal Level to .05 BAC in the U.S.

    ntsb reaching0The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently issued a recommendation to reduce the illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) per se limit from .08 to .05 or lower in the U.S. to save lives and prevent injuries. The recommendation would bring the U.S. standard in line with more than 100 nations including Australia, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, South Africa, and Spain. In 2011, 9,878 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in the U.S., accounting for 31% of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities nationwide. More than 180,000 people were injured, and drunk driving crashes now cost America $130 billion annually. Alcohol Justice stands with the NTSB in supporting the recommended limit change as an important step to save lives and prevent alcohol-related harm. 

  • Alcohol Justice Opposes Washington State Initiative 1183

    Alcohol Justice Opposes Washington State Initiative 1183

    No1183In 2010, voters in Washington rejected two initiatives that sought to privatize liquor sales in the state. Undeterred, many of the out-of-state conglomerates such as Costco are back again and looking to push deregulation on the Washington public. Wrapping their rhetoric in choice and convenience, the corporate interests behind I-1183 want to remove state government from alcohol sales so that their companies can increase profits even more. Instead of allowing the state to focus on enforcing state liquor laws and regulating liquor sales, I-1183 will dismantle the protections that the current control system promotes. Alcohol Justice formally opposes the 1183 campaign in Washington State, and joins with the Protect Our Communities - No on 1183 campaign in opposition of the initiative.

  • Gasolina “Party in a Pouch” Adds New Fuel to the Booze Fire Targeting Urban Kids

    Gasolina-CapriSunFollowing in the footsteps of brands like Four Loko and Blast who use colorful, youth-oriented packaging and pop-culture icons to market their products to an underage, urban demographic, newcomer Gasolina Urban Blends has upped the ante with its “Party in a Pouch" line: Brightly colored, 200-ml aluminum pouches complete with little straws inside to suck up the vodka, tequila, and rum, plus some fruit juice


    These pouches look remarkably similar to Capri Sun. Yes, the same packaging you see at youth soccer games across the country has now been repurposed for easy-access, take-anywhere alcohol. 

    We can’t help but wonder how the manufacturer, Pan American Properties, can say their product is not intended for consumption by minors without bursting into fits of laughter. Who else drinks sweet, brightly colored liquid from small aluminum pouches? Maybe the giggle fits continue when imagining parents grabbing the wrong pouch from the fridge when packing their kids' lunches. Not so funny when the kids actually drink the whole pouch of up to 11% alcohol by volume.

    Gasolina is also directly targeting the urban Latino demographic with product names such as “Tu Madras” and “Mojito" along with its own brand name. The marketing on its Facebook and Twitter accounts is in both English and Spanish. And young people are already paying attention – the Gasolina Facebook page has 77,888 "likes" and features beach parties, bikini-clad young girls, and “belly button of the week” contests, along with events like last week's "all-you-can-drink Gasolina pouches" event called "Frequency Thursdays" at Zen Exotic Lounge in Orlando, advertised on Gasolina's Open Bar page on Facebook.

    Just when we might think Blast had captured the lowest level of alcohol marketing, Gasolina takes dangerous and ill-advised to the very bottom.

  • Charge for Harm - California