Most people are completely unaware that an enormous and well-funded anti-alcohol industry exists in the U.S. It consists of a large number of interrelated organizations, groups and individual activists. They are opposed in some way to alcohol drinking. Some want to return to Prohibition. But most want to reduce average consumption to lower and lower levels: “Less alcohol is always too much alcohol.”
I. The Anti-Alcohol Industry
A major strategy in reducing drinking is to make alcoholic beverages more expensive and more difficult to obtain. “Availability is the mother of abuse” insists Joe Califano of the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA).
The anti-alcohol industry and its supporters tend to assume that:
- Alcohol is, in and of itself, the cause of all drinking problems.
- Availability of alcohol causes people to drink.
- The amount of alcohol consumed determines the extent of drinking problems. Irrelevant are the speed of drinking, the purpose of drinking, the social environment where consumed, etc.
- Alcohol education should focus on the problems that excessive drinking can cause. It should promote abstinence.
These beliefs lead those in the anti-alcohol industry to call for such measures as these.
- Increasing taxes on alcohol beverages.
- Limiting or reducing the number of sales outlets.
- Limiting the alcohol content of drinks.
- Prohibiting or censoring alcohol advertising.
- Requiring warning messages with all alcohol ads
- Expanding the warning labels on all alcohol containers
- Expanding the display of warning signs where alcohol is sold
- Limiting the days or hours during which alcohol can be sold
- Increasing server liability for any problems that occur after drinking
- Limiting the sale of alcohol to people of specific ages
- Decreasing the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level for driving vehicles or other activities
- Eliminating the tax deductibility of alcohol as a business expense.
The goal of the anti-alcohol industry as a whole is to establish cultural rather than legal prohibition. They want to make alcohol beverages less socially acceptable and marginalizing those who drink. And that’s no matter how moderately. They tend to ignore the important distinction between the use and the abuse of alcohol. For the most part, they tend to view it as all bad.
II. Major Players
Here are a few of the major organizations and leaders of the anti-alcohol industry.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) attempts to stigmatize alcohol, de-legitimize drinking, and marginalize drinkers. It spent over a quarter of a billion dollars ($265,000,00.00) in just over four years. That further developed and funded a nation-wide network of anti-alcohol organizations, centers, activist leaders, and opinion writers.
Behind the Neo-Prohibition Campaign: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows the extent of its influence. It found “nearly every study disparaging adult beverages in the mass media, every legislative push to limit alcohol marketing or increase taxes, and every supposedly ‘grassroots’ anti-alcohol organization” is funded by (RWJF).
Learn more at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Financier of Temperance
Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA)
CASA has a long record of producing highly questionable papers about alcohol that scientists discredit. For example, a researcher examined some of the references in a CASA paper. She “found the conclusions in the articles to be shockingly different from the way CASA depicted them.” Report after report has been exposed as lacking credibility. This led The Washington Times to observe that CASA has a “proven disdain for the facts.” Understandably, scholars have a lot of negative things to say about the Center on Alcohol and Substance Abuse. “[S]ome of it unprintable” observed Christopher Shea in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Learn more about the CASA at The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse: A Center for Alcohol Statistics Abuse?
Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY)
The Pew Charitable Trusts and the RWJF set up and funded the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. The mission of CAMY is to monitor the marketing practices of the alcohol industry. It seeks to “focus attention and action on industry practices that jeopardize the health and safety of America’s youth.” In its own words CAMY seeks to create “public outrage” against alcohol advertising to achieve its objective.
CAMY begins with an assumption which it then sets out to prove. In doing so it is clearly an activist group rather than an objective scientific group seeking to learn the truth. It’s doubtful if CAMY would ever to find any alcohol ads or any marketing to be acceptable. Pew and Johnson pay for and get their neo-temperance “research.”
Learn more about CAMY at Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth : Its Objectives and Methods
Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is not a science center. By its own admission, it’s a public advocacy action center. CSPI shows a continuing pattern of presenting alarming but erroneous and misleading statistics. A major goal of CSPI is reducing drinking of adults, even among moderate drinkers. A director, George Hacker, and his staff work toward this goal through the group’s Alcohol Policies Project.
Both CSPI and its Alcohol Policies Project are dedicated to “preventing alcohol.” Not to “preventing the abuse of alcohol.” They promote prohibitionist and neo-prohibitionist goals rather than public health goals. That’s all the difference in the world.
“CSPI is knowingly engaging in deceptive practices as they attempt to persuade the public and the media.” And “if CSPI’s efforts were an elementary school science project, young Jacobson would have received an ‘F'” and would have found himself in the principal’s office for cheating.”
To learn more about the activities of the CSPI visit Center for Science in the Public Interest
Coalition for the Prevention of Alcohol Problems
The Coalition for the Prevention of Alcohol Problems strongly promotes a temperance agenda. It should more accurately be called the Coalition for the Prevention of Alcohol. It is a coalition of temperance groups co-chaired by George Hacker and Stacia Murphy. She works for the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD).
Members of the Coalition include the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon Church), the American Council on Alcohol Problems (earlier called the Anti-Saloon League), the Temperance League of Kentucky, the General Board of Global Ministries, and the Illinois Church Action on Alcohol Problems.
The Coalition’s Steering Committee meets weekly in Washington to set its agenda and plan its political strategy. For more about the Coalition’s organizer and leader visit George Hacker of CSPI
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
Candy Lightner created Mothers Against Drunk Driving in 1980. Her goal was to reduce drunk driving and the death and injury that it can cause. Over time, temperance forces have gained control of MADD. As a result, it has largely become anti-alcohol rather than anti-drunk driving.
Candy Lightner says “it has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I ever wanted or envisioned.” She explains “I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.” More about MADD is at Mothers Against Drunk Driving: A Crash Course in MADD
Office of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse
The American Medical Association (AMA) first passed a resolution supporting alcohol abstinence even before National Prohibition began in 1920. It continues to support it to this day.
Moderate drinking causes better health and longer life than either abstaining or abusing alcohol. Yet the AMA remains a temperance group. This may be because so many doctors see the results of alcohol abuse. But the vast majority of people drink in moderation that benefits their health.
For whatever reason, the AMA promotes a temperance agenda. It describes its Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse this way. It’s “a national program office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.” The temperance RWJF formed the AMA’s office with an initial $5 million grant. It’s also poured many millions of dollars more into funding it.
For more about the Office of Alcohol and Other Drugs and other AMA temperance activities, visit American Medical Association: Abstinence Motivated Agenda
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP)
The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) is a massive federal agency. It aggressively promotes the reduction of consumption or neo-prohibition approach to reduce alcohol problems:
Taxpayers support this federal agency. But it has long been guilty of illegally misappropriating taxpayer money for lobbying. For censoring citizens with whom it disagrees. For self-servingly distorting statistics. And for using its power to abuse innocent people.
Some people think the government should abolish CSAP. Learn why at Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Alcohol Justice is the name of the former Marin Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems. It promotes reduction of consumption alcohol policies. Alcohol Justice equates alcohol with illegal drugs. Scientists repeatedly criticize its reports for being inaccurate and misleading. On the other hand, the Prohibition Party has praised Alcohol Justice for its anti-alcohol actions.
More about the group can be found at Alcohol Justice: An Anti-Alcohol Activist Organization.
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD)
The first female member of Alcoholics Anonymous founded the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). It has a nationwide network of 95 Affiliates. But it doesn’t limit its actions to fighting the abuse of alcohol and drugs.
NCADD opposes the use of alcohol, even in moderation by adults of legal drinking age. It says “[W]e’ve got to do a better job of persuading our citizens that alcohol use is a dead end. That they are playing Russian roulette. It’s not only with their own lives, but with the lives of friends, neighbors, and loved ones.”
American Council on Alcohol Problems
The American Council on Alcohol Problems is a federation of state affiliates promoting the reduction of consumption agenda. The Council was known as the Anti-Saloon League from 1893 until 1948, the Temperance League until 1950, the National Temperance League until 1964, and now as the American Council on Alcohol Problems. It partners with George Hacker’s Alcohol Policies Project at CSPI and other temperance groups.
Lawyer George A. Hacker has headed the temperance Alcohol Policies Project of the Center for CSPI for three decades. He is Co-Chair of the Coalition for the Prevention of Alcohol Problems. Its members include the American Council on Alcohol Problems (the current name of the Anti-Saloon League). They also include many other prohibition and temperance groups.
George Hacker has been a leading anti-alcohol activist. He has authored and coauthored many publications to promote neo-prohibitionism. And many people have noted his efforts. For example, journalist James Thalman described him Utah’s Deseret News as “an outspoken anti-alcohol activist.” Similarly, Michael Massing describes him in the New York Times as “the undisputed general” of the forces attacking alcohol.
Joseph Califano says he felt that he was on a genuine religious mission by creating CASA. He said “establishing and building CASA and committing myself to this battle against substance abuse was doing the Lord’s work.” For Joe Califano, virtually any drinking is alcohol abuse. One observer reports that ” Califano is essentially a reincarnation of the old temperance warriors.” He’s been a major part of the anti-alcohol industry.
Joe Califano and his Center have become well known for presenting highly suspect advocacy “research.”
Michael Jacobson co-founded the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in 1971. His co-founders were two lawyers from one of Ralph Nader’s activist groups. However, both lawyers soon dropped out. So now, Mr. Jacobson has his own activist group.
CSPI isn’t a science center but a special interest advocacy group for public policy. Most of its “science” hardly reaches the level of a high school science project. And high school students don’t have a political agenda for which they distort the evidence or misrepresent the facts. Michael Jacobson and his CSPI appear to do so.
“Alcohol, even when consumed in moderation, is perhaps CSPI’s most hated product.” The group’s Health letter has asserted that “the last thing the world needs is more drinkers, even moderate ones.” Jacobson wants hefty increases in alcohol taxes. He wants more limits on adult-beverage marketing. And even poster sized warning labels placed in restaurants.
Michael Jacobson’s actions are clearly consistent with the Nazi slogan, “Food is not a private matter.” He takes pride in being called the head of the food and beverage police.
…and Many More
This is only a partial list of some of the parts of the anti-alcohol industry. They include an army of others, such as Facing Alcohol Concerns through Education (FACE), and, Join Together Online. Also the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), Richard Yoast, Henry Wechsler, Jim Gogek, David Jernigan and Jim O’Hara. The list goes on and on. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation heavily funds most of the anti-alcohol industry.