The ABCs of Alcohol Regulation

Before Prohibition, large alcohol suppliers were strongly profit driven and pushed retailers to sell alcohol aggressively. They used credit and all types of inducements to increase the sale and consumption of alcohol. This encouraged intoxication and created major social problems.

Following the years since Prohibition, we now know what works in alcohol regulation – there is a large body of high-quality research – The World Health Organization. They have developed recommendations on how best to regulate alcohol. The “alphabet” format addresses the ABC’s of regulation.

Availability

Allows alcohol to be sold by the bottle and the drink, but limits the number, location, types of alcohol products and hours of outlets.

No “Bargain Booze”

Regulations balance prices, control price competition, and restrict dangerous marketing and promotional practices.

Children and Teens

Age restrictions protect young people from the serious problems of underage drinking.

Drunk Driving

Creates and enforces strict measures against drinking and driving – sobriety checks, blood alcohol limits, driver’s license suspension.

Education and Enforcement

Uses the carrot of education (alcohol awareness programs, “schools” for offenders) and the stick of enforcement (fines, community service and jail) when education fails.
Those employed at establishments licensed to sell alcohol are taught the regulations they must obey and enforce.
Those employed at establishments licensed to sell alcohol are taught the regulations they must obey and enforce.

Public safety must be the first priority when making any change in how alcohol is sold to the public. Alcohol is a potentially dangerous product that requires special handling in the marketplace; pricing, marketing and availability – locations.

Regulating the availability of alcohol remains the most effective way to control problem drinking.

The difficulty is that no one has come up with a precise formula that says how many outlets are too many. We don’t yet know enough about the alcohol market and social dynamics of individual neighborhoods.

It is important for state and local communities to retain control over the number and location of alcohol outlets within their borders. A “Control System” ensures that no one will have a profit incentive to sell alcohol to people who shouldn’t drink, such as youth and intoxicated persons.

Although there are some situations where alcohol should not be used at all, alcohol can usually be enjoyed if used in moderation. Alcohol regulations both encourage moderation and restrict excessive use. This preserves individual choice while protecting public health and safety.
Those employed at establishments licensed to sell alcohol are taught the regulations they must obey and enforce.