Throughout the month of April, the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) will be recognizing Alcohol Awareness Month, as highlighted by the U.S. Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to raise awareness about alcohol abuse.
“Alcohol is a unique product that is not for everyone,” said NBWA President Craig Purser. “National Alcohol Awareness Month is an appropriate time to recognize that alcoholic beverages need to be effectively regulated to help combat abuse and to ensure they do not end up in the hands of those under the legal drinking age.”
“Responsibility begins with effective regulation, and the United States has had a time-tested system of state-based alcohol regulation in place for more than eight decades – a system that allows the states to decide how best to regulate and track alcohol,” Purser said.
In 2016, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Sober Truth on Preventing (STOP) Underage Drinking Act. This law recognized that alcohol is a unique product, subject to regulation by the states, and highlighted several areas of action to help combat underage drinking. It will seek to better coordinate federal efforts to supplement state efforts to prevent underage drinking.
Purser continued, “There are 50 different alcohol markets in the United States, not one federal market. As such, it is important that each state fully fund their state alcohol regulatory body to ensure continued compliance with the law.”
While every state has its own set of alcohol beverage laws that address the specific needs of the individual state, the alcohol industry is regulated at the federal level by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). In addition to collecting federal excise taxes, the TTB protects consumers by enforcing regulations established by the Federal Alcohol Administration Act related to production, permitting and marketing. TTB ensures industry integrity through a comprehensive system of licensing and background checks.
The TTB regulates 48,000 permitted alcohol beverage operations in the U.S., including more than 20,000 permitted wholesalers (distributors); 6,100 permitted breweries; nearly 10,400 permitted wineries; 1,900 liquor producers; and 10,000 alcohol importers. The TTB works to enforce trade practice regulations at 620,000 licensed retailers across the country. Agency officials also review well over 100,000 labels and thousands of formulas each year to protect U.S. consumers from counterfeit, adulterated or illegally produced products.
“To ensure that TTB continues to be able to regulate the alcohol industry effectively, NBWA encourages Congress to fully fund the TTB and supports funding dedicated specifically to increasing trade practice enforcement efforts and education,” Purser said. “Enforcement of trade practice functions maintains an orderly and safe marketplace for consumers.”
Beer distributors oppose efforts to weaken alcohol regulations that protect consumers and the public. The more than 135,000 men and women of the American beer distribution industry work to encourage responsible consumption and to eliminate alcohol abuse of all types, including drunk driving and the underage purchase and consumption of alcohol.
NBWA encourages parents, educators and community leaders to join efforts to encourage responsible and legal consumption by utilizing SAMHSA resources that can help educate young people about the dangers of underage drinking and the importance of making smart decisions. More information about these resources can be found at www.stopalcoholabuse.gov.