National Survey: Support for State Regulation of Alcohol Bridges Partisan Gap

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A new poll commissioned by the Center for Alcohol Policy on public opinion toward alcohol regulation found that Americans continue to overwhelmingly support states maintaining the authority to regulate alcohol within their own borders.  Notably, this support is remarkably strong across political party lines despite the heightened political polarization of today.  85 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of Independents express support for alcohol being regulated at the state level.

Key findings from the Center’s survey additionally show that American adults are in favor of a broad array of state-level alcohol regulations and the three-tier system, which separates the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol.  In particular, they are satisfied with the consumer choice fostered by the American system of alcohol distribution.  

Additional results indicate that Americans want lawmakers to prioritize public health and safety over convenience and price when weighing changes to alcohol regulations.

“Public support for responsible state alcohol regulation has remained consistently high over the last decade. Despite the many attacks within the industry on regulation and the independent distribution system, the vast majority of Americans remain supportive,” says Jim Hall, former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and Center for Alcohol Policy Advisor.  “This steady support cuts across all demographic groups, even the red/blue divide, on nearly all these issues.  Americans clearly agree public health and safety are essential when considering changes to current law.”

Key findings from the survey include:

Americans continue to support state regulation of alcohol.

  • 86 percent of respondents agree that alcohol is a product that needs to be regulated.
  • 82 percent agree that alcohol is different that other products, and therefore should be regulated differently.
  • Support remains high for individual state regulation of alcohol (83 percent).
  • A wide majority support requiring license holders to be a resident of their respective state (77 percent).
  • 76 percent agree that alcohol sold should come through a licensed system for tracking.
  • 87 percent of respondents displayed a high confidence in the safety of alcohol products sold in their state.

Americans are satisfied with current alcohol regulations in their state.

  • 82 percent of Americans continue to be satisfied with the existing system for alcohol in their respective states.
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans are satisfied with the variety of alcohol products available (87 percent).

The three-tier system is viewed very positively.

  • 75 percent of respondents show support for states regulating through a three-tier system, which has been consistent over the past decade, and 3 out of 4 agree that the system works well.

Americans want alcohol laws to prioritize safety.

  • Most Americans reject that alcohol is just like other consumer products.
  • Drunk driving is seen as the most serious alcohol-related problem.
  • Survey respondents want lawmakers address drunk driving first. 78 percent agree reducing drunk driving is a priority, followed by protecting health and public safety (70%) and reducing underage drinking (64 percent).
  • Given the nation’s priorities, it is not surprising that 85 percent of Americans support keeping the legal drinking age at 21 years old.

The survey was conducted by New Bridge Strategy among 1,000 adults ages 21 and older throughout the nation. The interviews were conducted online and distributed proportionally throughout the U.S. and are demographically representative of this age group. The confidence interval associated with this sample is +/-3.5% at the 95% confidence level; with varying confidence for population subgroups within the sample.    


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Center for Alcohol Policy
277 S. Washington Street Suite 500-A Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 519-3090