2023 California Legislative Roundup

A baseball player in a white uniform stands in front of a large scoreboard, he is a prevention advocate and the other team is Big AlcoholThe 2023 California legislative session wrapped up at the end of October. It was a strange one, marked by Governor Gavin Newsom going on a veto spree, knocking off nearly 30% of the bills presented to him over a 3-day period.

But as we feared from an executive whose private success has come through the alcohol industry, the red pen did not touch any of the concerning alcohol-related bills.Of the 29 bills tracked by Alcohol Justice this year, none were vetoed, and 18 (62%) were signed into law. All of California's alcohol-related bills, including summaries and our analysis, are compiled on the California Legislative Tracker page.

Read more ...

Is Big Alcohol Attacking Irish Sovereignty?

A dimly lit empty meeting room, in which a liquor bottle sits on a wood table, with rows of chairs alongside itIn late May, Ireland made regulatory history by becoming the first country to enact stringent alcohol warning label requirements. Going well beyond the small, cramped, and oft-ignored warnings on U.S. bottles, the Irish warnings were eyecatching, comprehensive--including cancer risk--and provided a number of different labels in rotation. All of these were in accordance with the emerging global best practices around effective health education, and intended to stem the growing alcohol morbidity and mortality in the country.

Needless to say, the industry quickly moved to assert a popular, effective, evidence-based policy intended to save and extend lives could not stand. Raising objections before the June 21 meeting of the World Trade Organization, it sought to kill the Irish government's policy through the interests of other governments, including the United States.

Read more ...

BREAKING: Ireland Trailblazes Alcohol Health Warning Label Requirements

a tweet describing the signing of the first alcohol labeling requirement in Ireland above a screen capture of a bald white man in galsses, white collared shirt, and black tie, sitting at a wood desk, signing papersOn May 22, Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly announced via Twitter that Ireland was enacting the first comprehensive policy requiring health warning labels on all alcohol products. Alcohol health warning labels are an essential means to educate the public and allow for informed decisions about drinking, but are stridently opposed by most industry groups. The Irish policy sets a precendent  for other countries in the EU and international community to follow, and Alcohol Justice will keep you updated as this vital initiative gains steam.

READ MORE about the Liquor Bottle Label Battle.

The Good, the Bad, and the Party Zones: 2023 CA Alcohol Legislation Tracker Goes Live

On a cloudy day, a pool of brown water standing in front of four rows of barren grapevines with green grass growing between themThe state of California has been through a lot in the past few years. Fires, floods--a veritable James Taylor song, if Taylor had also thrown in a lethal respiratory virus.  But California survived.


The California legislature passed an unprecedented series of bills intended to deregulate the alcohol industry, and alcohol-related deaths skyrocketed in response. This year marked a turning of the calendar, with a new 2-year legislative session beginning.  With this session come a raft of new bills, new promises, and new threats to public health and public safety.

Alcohol Justice has compiled the complete list of alcohol-related legislation in California for 2023. But within that set, three bills in particular bear exceptional scrutiny--and possibly action. 

SB 76, the Party Zone bill. This bill is intended to help cities set up areas where alcoholic beverages can be carried out of the bar and consumed on the street. The bills comes with shocking few guardrails. The bill includes no requirements for enforcement or oversight. No mandates that the streets be closed or otherwise made safer for the intoxicated people walking around in them. The actual borders of these "party zones" are not required to be delimited or watched in any way, making it fucntionally impossible to remove individuals who are a danger to themselves or others from the area. And while the bill requires some method of indentifying underage individuals within the Party Zone, it is not clear how this wristbanding or hand-marking has any teeth considering the lack of enforcement. More broadly, we can see worst-case scenarios elsewhere in the United States, where policies like this incentivize bars to reduce staff and simply churn cheap, strong drinks directly out the door en masse. The results are marked increases in violence and accidental injury.

SB 277, the Mom and Alcopop Shop bill. In light of rising harms, California briefly turned its attention in the late 2000s to alcopops--sweetened, heavily flavored, often very high ABV cans of alcoholic drink that were low cost and sold everywhere. Through advocacy, including Youth for Justice's Alcopop-Free Zone campaign, the tide of these drinks was stemmed a little. This bill would bring it back full force. By allowing distilled spirit-based drinks of up to 10% ABV to be sold in beer-and-wine licensed shops, SB 277 would open the floodgates for the most blatantly youth-targeted products we've seen in the past 20 years. Aside from the general concerns around creating a means for the worst producer to churn out large quantities of strong, ready-to-drink cans, the market has already become captured by ersatz soft drinks. By using the branding around Coca-Cola, Mountain Dew, and TopoChico, among many others, the alcoholic drinks explicitly mimic products that kids are already seeking out. And these beer-and-wine licensed stores are the same corner- and convenience- stores that draw the majority of youth traffic. This is an alcohol youth-marketing bonanza, a fallback to a time of even more dangerous product lines, and a gift to the worst and most cynical megaproducers in the state.

AB 840, the Cal State Brought to You By Hornitos bill. Every year, we see a bill intended to suspend the three-tiers rules and allow some stadium or concert venue to receive money for alcohol advertising even though they also have a bar on the premises. It is reckless and stupid, especially considering the role alcohol marketing in sports plays in giving Big Alcohol early access to young eyeballs, but at least proponents can argue that youth aren't the central audience for sporting events or major concerts. That excuse is gone with this bill, which strips away three-tier protections for dozens of Cal State University facilities up and down the state. When it comes to colleges, a majority of attendees of a 4-year school should be under 21. Whatever tension there may be between young adulthood and legal drinking age, the fact remains that it is not legal for college students under 21 years of age to be buying alcohol, and therefore allowing Big Alcohol to market to them is capitalizing on their captive audiencehood. Similarly, that tension also does not excuse college campuses of an obligation to use all reasonable means to keep its student body alive and healthy; since alcohol is a factor in the top four preventable causes of death in young adults, splashing alcohol advertising all over campus facilities is a clear violation of that obligation.

These are only a few of the bills we are monitoring. There are many others worth opposing. And, before we're occused to endless negativity, there are a handful worth support, including: AB 697 which would make it easier for individuals in drug and alcohol diversion programs to finish the course; AB 1013, which would make testing kits available in every bar for patrons to tell if their drink has been laced with sedatives and other drugs that may facilitate sexual assault; and SB 498, which brings penalty amounts for licensees engaged in dangerous sales and other violations of ABC regulations into the 21st century.

We will continue following and fighting for or against these bills over the coming months.  If you have any questions, please reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., otherwise keep abreast of our Twitter and email, and join us in advocating, once again, for a healthy and compassionate California.