Alcohol

No crisis unused: Eurocare argues for a ban on alcohol sponsorship in sports

While the world is battling the Coronavirus crisis, the European Alcohol Policy Alliance (EUROCARE) is facing a different goliath: alcohol sponsorship… in sports? A head-scratcher of sorts, especially given that the sports industry will fall on hard times this year if COVID-19 drags on. With cancelled events and games, cutting the sports industry off from vital sponsorship income is cruel at best.

In the press release from EUROCARE, the group says:

“Millions of people – including children and young people – are exposed to alcohol sponsorship. The evidence is clear that alcohol marketing exposure is a cause of binge drinking and drinking onset among young people. It also influences their attitudes and increases their likelihood of developing problems with alcohol later in life.”

Naturally, these activists are not referring to specific evidence that points to this phenomenon. With children at a young age picking up smoking, including cannabis – both not advertised in any way – points to the conclusion that sponsorship is hardly the origin of substance abuse.

In fact, when we look at this problem we quickly figure out that it is not sponsorship in sports, or sponsorship altogether that is the problem for these groups, but alcohol in itself. They are the new prohibitionists, unable to halt until they have banned every last drop of fun. 

Ultimately, what sponsorship cannot be seen by children? Be it public advertisement in public transport or bus stops, or any TV channel or radio show: children can technically hear and see all advertising that adults have access to. The channels that are children-only already don’t feature these ads, and online portals such as YouTube allow for parental control that blocks all age-inappropriate pop-ups.

We should also stress that it should first and foremost be the obligations of parents to protect their children from harm, by educating them about appropriate and safe alcohol use. Delegating this responsibility to government agencies will culminate in an avalanche of bureaucracy that is not in the interest of consumer choice.

Banning ads in the name of protecting children is a backdoor to blatant bans on advertising for products altogether. Other vices are also at risk, as the press release also reveals:

“This research comes at a time when the place of gambling in sport has been called into question and we need to consider the propriety of linking any addictive and health-harming product with sport.”

The reality is this: consumers want products, and they want to enjoy vices such as alcohol. We should aim for responsible and educated consumers, as opposed to blatant patronising bans. Substance abuse is a real problem, yet we need to recognise that there are underlying problems that explain it, going beyond mere sponsorship. 

Whether or not alcohol is advertised has no impact on unemployment or any other personal hardship that leads to excesses in alcohol use. These problems need solving through different educational and social institutions, and most importantly through improved personal relationships. We as a society have responsibility to our friends and family, more than any governmental institution may proclaim to own.

Advertising plays an important role for consumers: it informs them about new and better products and allows for competition. Advertising is the extended arm of consumer choice, and ought to be protected.

COVID-19 and craft beer: Normally only 12 states allow delivery of all alcohol. Why is that?

COVID-19 has exposed many holes in America’s state alcohol laws. Maryland just suspended its shortsighted craft beer carryout purchase limits because it only legally allowed one case per customer. The likes of Colorado, California and even Texas are allowing bars and restaurants now to sell alcohol to-go, which is not normally legal, and now the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is allowing distilled spirits permittees to produce hand sanitizer. Let freedom ring.

But without the current COVID-19 crisis this would normally not happen. Do you know how many states normally allow alcohol delivery legally? According to Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), in a recent press release:

“Consumers can order thousands of household products and food from the internet, but prohibitions on shipping alcohol remain on the books. Instead of emergency laws allowing home delivery of alcohol for a short period of time, states should immediately move to make these laws permanent to increase consumer choice for every American. At present, 12 states allow for some method of delivery of all alcohol, and 31 states allow wine and beer to be purchased and shipped to consumers’ homes. Utah, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Rhode Island, and Deleware currently bar alcohol deliveries to personal residences.

“Allowing for alcohol delivery will help consumers during the Covid-19 outbreak in the short term, but will also help boost economic activity and increase competition and options for consumers in the long term,” said Ossowski. “There are dozens of innovative apps and online services like Drizly and Thirstie that are beginning to offer alcohol delivery in real-time, but the legal status is uncertain.”

States should allow alcohol delivery and to-go purchases beyond this crisis

If you’re reading this, you’re probably sitting at home right now — just like millions of other Americans in the face of COVID-19. State alcohol restrictions are being temporarily lifted via emergency declarations issued by state legislators to help support restaurants and small businesses that will not normally be allowed to deliver alcohol to people’s homes or sell them to-go. Feels like now is a good time to make that permanent.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

When we’re back to normal: Free up spirits sales

Prince Edward Island made an international stir on Thursday by closing its liquor and cannabis stores on the grounds they were not providing essential services and therefore should be shuttered in the face of the pandemic. That may well have been the right decision. But it likely caused millions of people to reflect that, while binge-viewing their favourite streaming service or relaxing after a day of Monopoly with the kids, it would be more than nice to relax with a glass of their favourite beverage or ingestive. No one favours substance abuse. But responsible enjoyment of their relaxant of choice is something adults should be free to choose to do.

Except that in many places in Canada, governments have not made that choice very easy. Ontario historically has been such a place. But in the 2018 provincial election now-Premier Doug Ford made a commitment to expand retail access and consumer choice for the 11.6 million Ontarians who consume alcohol. So far, Ford’s main push has been to expand retail sales by allowing alcohol to be sold at convenience stores. When his government announced this change in May 2019, most long-suffering Ontario alcohol consumers rejoiced. Unfortunately, prospects for their liberation soon dimmed because of a legal battle with The Beer Store. For obvious reasons, the whole question of market structures for alcohol sales is on the far back burner. But eventually this political struggle will resume. Here’s how spirits could help break the logjam.

As a foreign-owned corporate entity with a near-monopoly on the sale of beer, The Beer Store is a powerful force in the province. After Ford’s announcement, it threatened the government with a $1-billion lawsuit for breach of contract if the “Master Framework Agreement” was terminated. That agreement prohibits Ontario from allowing increased beer retail beyond 450 approved grocery stores until after 2025.

Although pro-consumer organizations have urged the government to call The Beer Store’s bluff, arguing that its legal position is weaker than its PR suggests, the premier seems unwilling to proceed without first negotiating with The Beer Store. That’s a decidedly un-populist win for corporatism at the expense of Ontario consumers.

Yet the Ford government isn’t entirely handcuffed by the agreement Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals signed onto in 2015. If Ford wants to show his commitment to increasing consumer access in Ontario, but without ripping up the Master Framework Agreement, he should simply expand product variety at the 450 approved grocery stores provincewide. With the stroke of a pen, the province could allow approved grocery stores to sell spirits alongside the beer and wine they already sell. Nothing in the agreement prohibits this, and it would make an immediate impact for Ontario consumers.

Such a move would clearly demonstrate the Ford government’s commitment to greater choice for alcohol consumers and would let The Beer Store know the province is serious about liberalizing markets for alcohol.

Allowing spirits to be sold in grocery stores would also create a fairer marketplace for consumers, retailers and producers. As it currently stands, spirits can’t be sold in grocery stores. This obviously disadvantages both the consumers who prefer spirits, and the stores that would willingly sell these products. It also seriously disadvantages local Ontario distillers, as their products are prohibited from being sold alongside beer and wine. Frankly, it is silly that foreign-made wine and beer can be sold at grocery stores, but Ontario-made spirits, made with Ontario grains, can’t be.

Beyond expanding consumer choice and market equity, giving spirits the green light would help prepare the province for a full-scale rollout once convenience stores are brought into the retail market. Letting grocery stores sell spirits would pave the way for convenience stores to do the same, and that would be a significant boon to consumers who at the moment can only choose between a government monopoly or a government-protected corporate one.

For the moment, Doug Ford’s hands may be tied by past agreements and negotiations with The Beer Store. Luckily for lovers of spirits, there is an easy policy change that could expand access while avoiding a costly legal battle. For the sake of everyone who enjoys a cold drink in Ontario, let’s hope Ford follows through and values consumers over corporatism.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Pregnancy health warning labels are biased and flawed

When I was in the 7th form, our biology teacher showed us a smoker’s lung model followed by a brief explanation of the negative effects of smoking. But the model of the damaged lungs itself was enough to educate me, a 13-year-old, about the health consequences I would have to deal with if I ever choose to smoke. This is the essence of freedom that penetrates our adult lives: free choices made in full awareness of the responsibility that follows. Be it alcohol, cigarettes, or sugar. Complex maths formulas we are taught in school are important, but learning about the importance of preserving our consumer choice in the face of nannyism even more so. 

By introducing various obligatory warning labels such as  “smoking can cause a slow and painful death”, governments all around the world have been trying to compensate for failures of their education systems to effectively convey these messages. Because if everyone knows that smoking isn’t the healthiest habit, they won’t do it, right? 

No, they would and should be free to do so. If a consumer is determined to buy a pack of cigarettes, no warning label, and no tax will affect his behaviour. With a plethora of lifestyle regulations, nannying is now seen as inherent to governments. But this is wrong. It is the role of educational establishments to educate us about the effects of smoking or alcohol, but governments are there to guarantee we are able to exercise our freedom to choose as long as we do not cause harm to other people.

In February, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand announced its intention to make labelling on alcoholic drinks mandatory.  The new label will include the words “health warning” in bold red text, and “alcohol can cause lifelong harm to your baby”. How obvious, one would say. According to a poll conducted by YouGov, 70 per cent of Australians were aware that drinking while pregnant contributed to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder. And yet some 70 per cent of respondents supported changing labels on alcohol bottles.

Nothing is wrong with Australians wanting to see warning labels on their alcoholic beverages. The question is whether it’s achieved through government compulsion or voluntarily. In Australia, the existing rules adopted in 2011 make using a symbol with a line through a silhouette of a pregnant woman drinking a glass of wine voluntary. It is of course in the interest of the industry to live up to the expectations of its consumers, but changes to the new labels would cost $400 million in producing new labels. The higher the price of production, the higher the price for consumers.

What about adult male and female (non-pregnant) consumers of alcohol? Is it fair that they would need to pay a higher price for alcoholic products to educate pregnant women about the negative effect of consuming alcohol during pregnancy? Pregnancy health warning labels are biased and ignore the interests of a far wider group of consumers who are hurt by such regulations. It really is cheaper, more sustainable and generally more socially beneficial to invest in proper school education. 

At a time when governments are increasingly targeting our consumer choice, we should be prepared to fight back. One drop of nannyism doesn’t make a storm cloud, but a huge accumulation of them does. I don’t like living in a world where I’m treated like a child who doesn’t know that an excess of alcohol, smoking, sugar and [insert other product deemed dangerous] else may cause harm and so needs to be directed away from them.  You?


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

N.C. ABC stores remain open throughout state; liquor delivery not an option

N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control stores remain open throughout the state, although many staff members within the ABC system are working from home.

The stores have established new protocols to minimize direct contact between the public and staff working on site, Jeff Strickland, ABC spokesman, said in an email.

“Our goal is to protect the safety and well-being of our staff and the public, while ensuring we can still meet the needs of the public,” he said. “We do not believe that service to the public will be diminished from our efforts.” 

The ABC, he said, continues to follow guidance from the governor, Office of State Human Resources, and Department of Health and Human Services.

The ABC Commission is separate from the more than 400 stores, which are managed by 170 independent boards around the state. The boards would decide whether to close or adjust their hours or operations, Strickland said.

“At this time, the ABC Commission is not aware of any ABC boards that have closed their stores or plan to.” 

North Carolina residents can’t order spirits online, nor have them delivered, but people can order beer and wine for delivery if the entity performing the delivery has the appropriate permit. The General Assembly would have to change state law for liquor delivery, and that won’t happen anytime soon.

Alabama, Oklahoma, and Utah ban all alcohol shipments to consumers, the Consumer Choice Center says in a news release. Only Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Nebraska, and New Hampshire allow consumers to buy alcohol online and have it shipped to their residences.

“Social distancing is here and millions of people are staying home to avoid spreading coronavirus,” says Yaël Ossowski, Consumer Choice Center deputy director.

“But if you’re unlucky enough to live in a state with strict alcohol laws, you won’t be able to ship a bottle of wine, a six-pack, or your favorite bourbon to your address. And that’s beyond ridiculous.

“Bans on shipping alcohol are leftover policies from Prohibition that deprive us of choice. These bans will only exacerbate the economic damage caused by coronavirus. In the 21st century, we should no longer have antiquated alcohol laws that restrict our choices, reduce commerce, and treat adults more like children.” Ossowski says.

North Carolina presents a unique case. It’s one of 17 control states — state-run systems — but the only state with a system of independent boards and local control, which dates to the late 1930s.

Residents, Ossowski says, are becoming increasingly aware of North Carolina’s paternalistic laws surrounding alcohol. 

“We can easily have food and groceries delivered, but those options are slim when it comes to alcoholic beverages,” he said in an email. “Due to strict N.C. alcohol laws, online merchants such as Amazon can’t stock your favorite wines, craft beers or liquors unless they follow a very strict line of regulations. No one can receive an alcohol shipment from out of state unless they’re a licensed wholesaler. Wineries looking to ship bottles must be located in state and can’t send you more than two cases per month. Breweries and distilleries face the same restrictions. At least until we change these regulations, North Carolina will remain behind when it comes to innovation and alcohol.”

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Stuck at home? We should be able to have our alcohol delivered

This week, millions of Americans will be following the advice of their public health agencies and staying home to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Where possible, many will have food and drinks delivered to help support the thousands of restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores that have been ordered to temporarily close or limit hours.

Americans in multiple states will be prohibited, however, from having any alcohol hit their doorstep. 

That’s due to arcane laws on the books in several states that don’t allow certain alcohol – beer, wine, and spirits – to be shipped directly to consumers.

Alabama, Oklahoma, and Utah ban all alcohol shipments to consumers, whereas most others only allow wine shipments, shipments of alcohol after it has been purchased physically in a store, or from wineries located in-state.

Only Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Nebraska, and New Hampshire allow consumers to purchase alcohol online and have it shipped to their residences.

Now is as good a time as any to consider changing these laws and empowering consumers to receive alcohol at home just like any other product.

Social distancing is here and millions of people are staying home to avoid spreading coronavirus. But if you’re unlucky enough to live in a state with strict alcohol laws, you won’t be able to ship a bottle of wine, a six-pack, or your favorite bourbon to your address. And that’s beyond ridiculous.

Improvements in technology and mobile apps have connected millions to stores and marketplaces that ship products to our doors relatively quickly.

Bans on shipping alcohol are leftover policies from Prohibition that deprive us of choice. These bans will only exacerbate the economic damage caused by coronavirus.

In the 21st century, we should no longer have antiquated alcohol laws that restrict our choices, reduce commerce, and treat adults more like children. Let’s legalize alcohol shipments.

Supreme Court Makes the Right Decision on Modernizing Alcohol Laws

CONTACT:
Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director
@YaelOss
[email protected]

Washington, D.C. – In a 7-2 decision handed down yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Tennesse law that prohibits new state residents from obtaining liquor licenses.

The law required a two-year residency in the state before applicants could apply for a liquor license for a new business, shutting the door to entrepreneurs and depriving consumers of products they otherwise would have enjoyed.

The main issue up for consideration in Tennessee Wine And Spirits Retailers Assn. v. Thomas was whether the 21st Amendment, which repealed alcohol prohibition in 1933, allowed states carte blanche to pass alcohol laws that effectively violated the commerce clause.

In response, Yaël Ossowski, Deputy Director at the Consumer Choice Center, said “the Supreme Court made the absolute right decision, and it gives a total endorsement for the modernization of our Prohibition-era state alcohol laws.

“In many southern states and beyond, alcohol-control laws are some of the most byzantine and backward on the books. Indeed, many have not changed in the 86 years since the end of Prohibition.

“These laws treat adults like children, stunt economic growth, deprive consumers of better choices, and drastically increase costs for everyday people who just want a drink at the end of a hard day’s work.

“The Supreme Court’s decision isn’t as expansive as consumers would like, but it at least begins the conversation about how we can liberalize and modernize our alcohol laws for the 21st Century.

“Now is the time to explore getting rid of state liquor monopolies, protectionist limits on distribution, crony alcohol commissions, the requirements to use wholesalers, bans on shipping across state lines, punitive taxes, and other restrictive regulations that limit the creativity of entrepreneurs to deliver better products that consumers love.

“With more modern alcohol policies, entrepreneurs will have more room to grow their businesses, consumers will have access to better products tailored for their tastes, and we will finally close the book on the destructive era that was alcohol Prohibition in this country,” concluded Ossowski.

CCC’s Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski is available to speak with accredited media on consumer regulations and consumer choice issues. Please send media inquiries HERE.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Last Call should be extended for all consumers, not just politicians

CONTACT:
Yaël Ossowski
Deputy Director
@YaelOss
[email protected]

Last Call should be extended for all consumers, not just politicians

Charlotte, NC – Yesterday it was reported that North Carolina Republicans have introduced a provision that would allow bars, clubs, and restaurants to stay open until 4 AM during the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Consumer Choice Center Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski responded to the news stating that extending the hours that facilities can serve alcohol shouldn’t just be a temporary measure for big city political conventions, but should instead be allowed statewide from here on out.

“What message are we sending about consumer choice if we only pass modern alcohol policies when a party comes to town,” asked Ossowski.

“Giving business owners the permanent option of staying open later to serve customers would provide the exact same economic benefits state legislators are touting about temporarily giving business owners that option in August 2020 during the RNC.

“Extending the time for ‘Last Call’ would be up to the individual businesses, and would be a huge boon for modernization of our state’s alcohol policy. Not only would clubs, bars, and restaurants have more flexibility, but consumers would also have a bigger range of options to choose from, and that could finally provide an incentive to lawmakers to update our state’s antiquated alcohol laws.

“Bringing North Carolina into the 21st Century when it comes to alcohol policy should be a priority for state legislators, and that is something that should be embraced for all North Carolina residents, not just when the RNC comes to Charlotte,” said Ossowski.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

OPINION: Craft Beer Law a Win for Consumer Choice, But We Need More Alcohol Reform

Consumer Choice Center Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski applauded the move but said more needs to be done for true alcohol reform in North Carolina.

“This new law will allow breweries to expand and ship more product across the state, giving North Carolina consumers greater access to their favorite craft brews. That’s a huge win for consumer choice,” said Ossowski.

“But we need to go further if we want true alcohol reform. There are bills in both the House and Senate that would green light liquor tastings onsite, finally allow people to purchase their alcohol online, and remove the cap on how much distillers are able to sell to consumers.

“Another big priority should be ending the state monopoly on liquor sales and the outdated ABC system, which raises costs for consumers, misallocates capital better used by private enterprise, and gives too much authority to politicians and administrators as economic planners rather than regulators.

“Bringing North Carolina into the 21st Century when it comes to alcohol policy should be a priority for state legislators, and the latest moves coming out of Raleigh are a welcome sign,” said Ossowski.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Read more here

More Toronto grocery stores will soon be carrying booze

David Clement, Toronto-based North American Affairs Manager of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said that the announcement is a step in the right direction.

“The move helps underserved regions, while maxing out the amount of grocery stores allowed under the Master Framework Agreement (MFA). It is positive to see these changes while the province undergoes the process of scrapping the MFA and allowing for alcohol sales in convenience stores,” Clement said.

Read more here

Scroll to top