Archive for the Category Newsroom

 
 

Loosening of State Regulations, Direct-to-Consumer Sales Increase Counterfeit Alcohol Risks

Center for Alcohol Policy Releases New White Paper Addressing Risks of Fake Alcohol in Interstate E-Commerce

(ALEXANDIRA, Va.) Today the Center for Alcohol Policy (the Center) released its newest report on the need for states to evaluate the risks of fake alcohol stemming from online or interstate direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales in the United States.

The white paper commissioned by the Center and authored by Patrick Maroney, the former top Colorado alcohol regulator, is a follow-up to two Center for Alcohol Policy-funded studies from 2014 and 2017, both authored by Robert Tobiassen, a former chief counsel at the U.S. Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

“From my 33 years of experience in law enforcement and as former director of a state liquor regulatory agency, I understand the importance of America’s strong alcohol regulatory system and its relevancy to public health and safety,” says Maroney. “With the world of e-commerce now an everyday presence in consumers’ lives, this report provides a much-needed analysis on its influence in the alcohol marketplace and significant risks to public health and safety.”

While Tobiassen’s two studies focused on incidents of fake alcohol mostly in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and Ireland as compared to the United States (2014) and the U.K.’s newly regulated alcohol wholesaler system (2017), Maroney’s update discusses DTC sales through interstate e-commerce – specifically how this platform increases avenues for counterfeit products to enter the marketplace around the world.

Maroney points out that counterfeit or tainted alcohol “poses a far higher risk to public health and safety” than most other fake products found throughout the e-commerce marketplace. He also highlights how counterfeit alcohol harms the legitimate alcohol industry.

Since the U.S. three-tier regulatory system for the alcohol industry is designed to protect public health and safety and other interests, the U.S. has been fortunate to see few reported health issues or deaths attributed to tainted alcohol, unlike other countries such as IndiaMexico and Costa Rica. But if the current regulatory system in place is undone by expanding online DTC sales, Maroney warns that it would “increase the exposure of fake and counterfeit alcohol beverage products to the alcohol industry, specifically to the consumer.”

“The Center understands the need for sound research on alcohol regulations,” says Mike Lashbrook, the Center’s Executive Director. “At a time of significant disruption in how consumers purchase and receive alcohol, it is important for policy makers to assess the public health and safety risks to any proposed changes to alcohol regulations.”

The report additionally highlights current state laws that are used to combat fake alcohol and warns against efforts to circumvent these laws in desire for consumer convenience.  

Read the full report here.

Loyola University Chicago Law Student Wins First Place in Center for Alcohol Policy National Essay Contest

The Center for Alcohol Policy is pleased to announce that Travis Thickstun, a J.D. candidate at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, has been named the winner of the Center’s Twelfth Annual Essay Contest. Thickstun is also a district commander for the Indiana State Excise Police and holds a Master of Jurisprudence from Indiana University McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.
 
To enter the contest, participants were asked to provide thoughtful responses to the following prompt:

During the United States Supreme Court 2019 term, the Court announced in June its decision in Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas (TWSRA v Thomas). Based on the Court’s decision, what do you believe will be the next steps for alcohol policy in the United States?
 
“The TWSRA v. Thomas Supreme Court Case provided an extraordinary opportunity for participants to explore the potential aftermath of this decision – the first of its kind in 13 years,” says Center for Alcohol Policy Advisory Council member Brannon Denning. “This year’s winners delivered exceptional research and analysis on the Twenty-First Amendment’s history in the courts and its future in light of Justice Alito’s opinion.”

Thickstun’s winning essay, “The Camel’s Nose Under the Tent: Next Steps for State-Based Alcohol Policy After Tennessee Wine and Spirits”, provides an in depth analysis of courts’ initial interpretations of the Twenty-First Amendment immediately following its adoption and skillfully addresses its historical and complex relationship with the Dormant Commerce Clause leading up to TWSRA v. Thomas.

Thickstun outlines possible next steps for state-based regulation of alcohol and provides policy recommendations – “State legislators, regulators, and the alcoholic beverage industry itself… must enact alcohol policies that can withstand the post- Tennessee Wine Dormant Commerce Clause analysis by basing them on concerns for public health or safety or on some other legitimate nonprotectionist ground.”

Timothy Gervais, a tax accountant in California and now a three-time award recipient, placed second with his essay, “Residency Requirements, the Commerce Clause, and the “Predominant Effects Test”: A Brief Analysis of Tennessee Wine and Spirits Association v. Thomas”. 

Gervais acknowledges the difficulty of predicting long-term consequences that stem from any Supreme Court ruling and addresses the reality that changes in alcohol regulation might happen gradually.

Even so, Gervais points out that “one clear implication for future alcohol regulation” from TWSRA v. Thomas is the considerable amount of litigation that is sure to arise from its decision.

Receiving third place for her essay “Erosion or Explosion? The Future of Alcohol Policy in the United States,” Adrienne Southworth, the former deputy chief of staff to a Lt. Governor, addresses what she believes to be a “new era” in alcohol policy following the Tennessee Wine decision, given the “180-degree turns” the Supreme Court has made in its interpretation of the Twenty-First Amendment.

Southworth questions four possible outcomes: Whether this new era could “disintegrate” the three-tier system, the potential for escalated litigation under the Commerce Clause, whether the weakening of state regulations could result in national policy or if state regulations might survive as long as they assume smart solutions.

The winning entrants received prizes of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 respectively.

All three award recipients will be invited to speak at the Center’s upcoming Alcohol Law and Policy Conference in Chicago, IL August 30 – September 1, 2020.

Read their full essays here

These essays were judged by the Center’s Advisory Council. Judges did not receive any names or personal information about the participants prior to judging.

Subscribe to the RSS Feed
Center for Alcohol Policy
1101 King Street Ste 600-A Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 519-3090 info@centerforalcoholpolicy.org