Dr. DeJong explains that activists use the term “the alcohol industry.” In doing so, they’re “trying to tap into the public’s general suspicion of profit-making big business. Harking back to the trust busting days of the early 1900’s, some advocates have even started throwing around the epithet ‘Big Alcohol.’”
Dr. DeJong points out some of the problems caused by using such terms. “First, using these catchall terms obscures important differences between producers, distributors, and vendors.” It also masks important differences between beer, wine and spirits (liquor) producers. They are often at odds over public policy and other matters.
What’s Wrong with the Alcohol Industry
- Large and small producers.
- Importers and non-importers.
- Exporters and importers..
- California and New York State vintners.
- Large retailers and mom-and-pop retailers
- Bars and restaurants serving alcohol
- Operations in alcohol monopoly and non-monopoly states.
And the list goes on and on.
The so-called alcohol industry is highly fragmented. It has many conflicting interests. So it’s unable to speak with one voice. There’s really no such thing as “the alcohol industry” or “Big Alcohol.” Using these terms may be useful for stirring up emotions. But it’s highly inaccurate…even deceptive.
Dr. DeJong also stresses that use of such terms creates a serious problem. It discourages efforts to find common ground between both sides. That is, between alcohol abuse prevention professionals and those who produce, distribute or retail alcoholic beverages.
He points out that there are many successful collaborations. They include responsible beverage service programs and voluntary agreements promoting responsible drinking. When there are win-win collaborations, the public benefits.
Yet many well-meaning activists strongly oppose any collaboration with “the enemy.” They think that drinking is bad. And that those who produce, distribute and retail drinks are bad. So they cut off their nose to spite their faces.
That’s what’s wrong with “the alcohol industry.”
- DeJong, W. What’s in a name? Let me count the ways. Prev File, 18(2), 2-5.
- Dr. William DeJong is former head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention. His work is published widely.