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.


 
 
 

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