The Perfect Storm for Deregulation

Alcohol companies have a lot to say about regulations on alcohol.

Often through proxies, like politicians or journalists, they have successfully advocated for the gradual easing of alcohol regulations. Across the U.S., alcohol restrictions and regulations are getting removed by an industry bent on removing all barriers to profits—including the health and wellbeing of their customers.

Take, for example, the “America’s Dumbest Drinks Laws” report from the R Street Institute. In it, the R Street Institute takes aim at state laws that, among other things, prevent alcohol companies from portraying Santa in their ads.

Nothing says “adult-targeted advertisement” like Santa delivering miniature bottles of liquor under the tree and being rewarded not with cookies and milk but with a beer, right?

So why are so many law firms, politicians, and media outlets so eager to go along with these campaigns?

In a word, money.

Alcohol companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually in lobbying and campaign contributions, media companies stand to make millions in advertising revenues, and some law firms see these cases as moneymakers. Add in the profit incentive of alcohol companies themselves, and you’ve got a perfect storm for deregulation.

As public health advocates, it’s up to us to stand against those deregulation efforts. Staying in touch with advocacy organizations and your legislators can help you stay aware of these pushes for deregulation. Tools like the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org can also help you see industry trends across the nation.

It’s true, however, that some of the laws regulating alcohol are outdated. Those laws should be updated, not removed, in order to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities.

Many states, for instance, are struggling with mail order alcohol through retailers and apps, especially as teens have been abusing these services to get alcohol. Without state regulatory guidance, local governments are taking on these challenges themselves.

When those laws are outdated, prevention ought to have a seat at the table. We’ve got ideas that will prevent diversion to youth and protect the health and fabric of our communities. It’s up to us to bring those ideas to those tables.

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