News

ABL Celebrates Second Annual Package Liquor Store Month This November 

Thursday, November 03, 2011 1:44:45 PM
ABL Celebrates Second Annual Package Liquor Store Month This November
Source: ABL
Nov 1st
American Beverage Licensees (ABL) is celebrating off-premise beverage retailers during Package Liquor Store Month this November. America's independent package liquor stores continue to have a positive impact on their communities by creating jobs, offering unparalleled product choices to millions of customers and leading the way when it comes to selling beverage alcohol responsibly.
Some of the last remaining independent businesses on Main Street, package liquor stores, which in most cases also sell beer and wine, train their employees to conduct safe and responsible face-to-face sales to adult consumers, thus leading by example when it comes to preventing underage access to alcohol.
"We believe it is important to highlight the sense of responsibility that independent package liquor store owners hold in serving their communities," said ABL President Chuck Ferrar, who owns Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, Maryland.
"Beverage retailers work hard to maintain a safe environment for their families, friends and neighbors," Ferrar continued. "They also provide thousands of full-time and part-time jobs and are important contributors to local economies everywhere."
Package Stores Still Face Challenges
Despite the value package liquor stores deliver to their communities and their customers, threats to these small businesses abound. In Washington State, a move to dismantle the three-tier system and create an unlevel playing field for small businesses has led ABL to join the fight to defeat ballot initiative 1183.
Additionally, city, county and state governments all too often target the hospitality industry with alcohol tax increases as a quick fix for budget shortfalls. Beverage licensees already contribute more than their fair share through a variety of federal excise taxes, state excise taxes, county excise taxes, city excise taxes, state and city sales taxes, and other assessments and fees.
"Beverage retailers know first-hand how damaging alcohol tax increases can be to their businesses and employees," said ABL executive director John Bodnovich. "We will continue to work with elected officials and the public to make sure that beverage retailers are not faced with another hurdle for sustaining successful businesses and jobs."
Increasingly, beverage retailers are also forced to address misguided attacks on their businesses based on junk science. Despite the fact that package liquor stores are "licensed" businesses, under the scrutiny of state and local government, law enforcement and regulators, they must constantly defend themselves from those who seek to shutter their stores and put them out of business.
Providing Education & Choice
Thanks in large part to the three-tier system, American consumers already have access to the greatest variety of wine, beer and spirits of any country in the world. Now, with the constant flow of information via the Internet and social media, customers are progressively seeking out more information about these products. The explosion of locally-brewed beers, niche wines and craft-distilled spirits has meant that each bottle, and the story behind it, can captivate customers.
As consumers embrace craft products, organic alternatives and local producers, independent package store owners provide an environment where a knowledgeable staff can educate customers on the thousands of options they have when it comes to picking the beverage that's right for them. It's this superior choice and service that makes for better-informed and more responsible consumers of beverage alcohol.
In this season of celebration, ABL and its nearly 20,000 members encourage everyone to support locally-owned business by stopping in their neighborhood package liquor store for a bottle of their favorite wine, beer or distilled spirits. November is Package Liquor Store Month...Let's Celebrate!
 
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Alcohol Tax Threatens Cook County Hospitality Industry 

Thursday, October 27, 2011 1:25:01 PM
Alcohol Tax Threatens Cook County Hospitality Industry
Spirits Consumers Face 4th Tax Hike Since 2005
Source: DISCUS
Oct 26th
The Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), representing thousands of spirits brands sold in Illinois, today blasted Cook County's proposal to raise spirits taxes calling the 25% hike a major job-killing burden on Chicago's hospitality industry.
"Forcing bartenders and busboys into the unemployment line is no way to shore up the county budget," said DISCUS Vice President Dale Szyndrowski, noting that hospitality businesses in the Chicago area are still down 13,000 jobs since before the recession. "Raising taxes should not be the answer to every problem in Cook County. It's time to say enough is enough."
Szyndrowski said this increase would mark the fourth alcohol tax hike on Chicagoans since 2005, including two city tax increases (2005, 2008) and one state excise tax increase (2009) which nearly doubled taxes on spirits.
Under Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's proposal, the current county excise tax on spirits would increase 25% from $2.00 per gallon to $2.50 - further increasing an already staggering tax burden on Chicago-area consumers.
Szyndrowski pointed to an economic analysis showing that a Chicago restaurant patron already pays eight different direct taxes with each purchase, including: Federal Excise Tax ($13.50/proof gallon), State Excise Tax ($8.55/gallon), County Excise Tax ($2.00/gallon)*, City Excise Tax ($2.68/gallon), State Sales Tax (6.25%), County Sales Tax (1.25%), Transport Tax (1.00%) and City Sales Tax (1.25%). He also noted that 58% of the purchase price of a typical bottle of spirits in Illinois already goes to taxes.
"Hamstringing the hospitality industry with higher alcohol taxes will cost jobs and hurt tourism throughout the state," Szyndrowski said, noting that another tax increase will likely drive tourists and business travelers into nearby Wisconsin and Indiana.
Under the Board's proposal, the county excise tax would increase from $2.00/gallon to $2.50/gallon - a 25% increase - and make spirits taxes in Chicago 85% higher than spirits taxes in New York City.
 
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Illinois:  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 3:31:10 PM
Illinois: Preckwinkle wants to raise Cook County taxes on tobacco, beer, cars (Excerpt)
New money and spending cuts are aimed at closing a $315 million shortfall in next year's budget
Source: Chicago Tribune
By Erika Slife, Tribune reporter
October 24, 2011
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will ask commissioners to raise taxes on alcohol, tobacco products and cars and to lay off more than 1,000 workers under a budget blueprint she rolled out Monday.
Those living in unincorporated areas could pay more for police services, and people parking in county garages would have to pay for the privilege.
The combination of new money and spending cuts are aimed at closing a $315 million shortfall in next year's budget. Preckwinkle will formally present her budget to the County Board on Tuesday in the hopes of meeting a Nov. 30 deadline and avoiding a protracted struggle that in past years has lasted until late February.
Among the tax and fee hikes, Preckwinkle hopes to collect $12 million a year by taxing loose tobacco, rolling papers, snuff and other cigarette products that officials said have long escaped county taxes.
Taxes on wholesale alcohol sales would rise. Beer would go from 6 cents to 9 cents a gallon, and liquor with more than 20 percent alcohol by volume would increase from $2 to $2.50 a gallon. The new taxes, which typically get passed on to drinkers, could raise nearly $30 million. The county alcohol tax hasn't been raised since 1989, officials said.
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Retailers Continue High FDA Compliance Rates 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 5:35:24 PM

Retailers Continue High FDA Compliance Rates

With more than 25,000 FDA compliance inspections conducted, 96% were passed successfully

By Thomas A. Briant

Tobacco E-News | October 25, 2011

 

With 38 state agencies now conducting compliance inspections for the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, retailers continue to achieve a very high rate of success in passing the compliance inspections. The FDA issued a report as of the end of September 2011, and indicated that with more than 25,000 retail store compliance inspections completed, 96% of retailers passed the compliance checks successfully.

Generally, the state agency inspectors are checking for the following during a compliance inspection:

1.         No self-service displays of cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco or smokeless tobacco in a store that allows minors to be present.

2.         No sales of individual cigarettes or "loosies," as they are referred to by FDA staff.

3.         Store clerks must request and check photo identification of customers that are under 27 years old.

4.         Store clerks do not sell tobacco products to an underage minor accompanying the inspector.

Retailers should note that these state-commissioned inspectors generally do not announce themselves to store personnel, and most of the time store personnel will not be aware that the inspectors were even in the store.  Click here for the FDA Web page that lists the 38 states plus the District of Columbia currently under contract to perform FDA compliance inspections.

 

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Longwell: The new Prohibition 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 2:44:19 PM

Longwell: The new Prohibition

Source: Richmond Times Dispatch

By: SARAH LONGWELL

Published: October 13, 2011

Ken Burns' new documentary, "Prohibition," is a big hit for PBS - almost 4 million viewers tuned in last week to see America's premier documentarian tell the tale of a time when Americans had to know a secret knock just to get an after-work cocktail.

What viewers might not realize is that prohibitionists are alive and well today. Decades after the repeal of the 18th Amendment, busybody activists are pursuing policies to make it more difficult for consumers to drink socially and urging governments to use every tool in their sheds to cut down on casual alcohol consumption.

Groups like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Alcohol Justice, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), among others, are all pursuing misguided policies to make it more difficult for you - the law-abiding grownup - to responsibly enjoy alcoholic beverages.

Policies such as higher alcohol taxes, sobriety checkpoints, lower legal drunken-driving thresholds, restrictions on Sunday sales, alcohol advertising bans, and initiatives to put alcohol-sensing devices in all cars as original equipment are touted as solutions to problems such as underage drinking, alcoholism and drunken driving.

But in reality these laws aren't about curbing alcohol abuses; they're part of a neo-prohibitionist effort to restrict the consumption of alcohol no matter how moderate.

Responsible use of alcohol remains an integral part of American culture. According to annual polls conducted by Gallup, between 62 and 66 percent of American adults consume at least a moderate amount of alcohol every year. Yet despite the popularity and reported health benefits of moderate and responsible alcohol consumption, these activist groups wish to marginalize social drinkers and treat alcohol as an illegal drug.

As Burns points out in his documentary, anti-alcohol hysteria created many disastrous, unintended consequences during the Prohibition era. Modern prohibitionists aren't faring any better.

Take sobriety checkpoints, for example, where police officers set up random roadblocks and check every driver who comes through to see if they've been drinking. Groups such as MADD claim that roadblocks promote traffic safety, but they may actually be making our streets more dangerous. Ask any police officer standing at a sobriety roadblock which catches more drunken drivers, checkpoints or roving police patrols. The cop will tell you, perhaps grudgingly, patrols are far and away the best means of getting dangerous drunks off the road, not costly and intrusive checkpoints.

And then there's the ever-popular alcohol tax, a favorite of revenue-starved state legislatures. We know two things about alcohol tax increases: They do nothing to deter problem drinking (the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported tax increases have no effect on the heaviest 5 percent of drinkers) and they cost Americans in the already vulnerable hospitality industry jobs.

Last year, representatives from around the world voted to endorse the World Health Organization's "global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol," including a recommendation that governments ban alcohol advertisements. Under the smokescreen that these advertisements are designed to appeal to teens, they want to get all ads off the airwaves, despite the fact that the Department of Health and Human Services found that alcohol ads have no effect on consumption. Market research has shown that limits on alcohol advertisements don't affect overall alcohol use, just the brands and types of alcohol consumers choose to drink.

And there's not room enough in these pages to outline all of the problems with the very-much-under-way efforts to install all new cars with sophisticated alcohol-detection devices that would likely prevent the car from starting if the driver has had even a small amount of alcohol.

By repealing Prohibition, Americans chose to reverse the only constitutional amendment ever enacted that restricted our individual rights. Yet activists continue to look for new ways to limit or ban alcohol consumption. While they may be unable to ban the production and sale of alcohol outright, the new prohibitionists want to make it harder to enjoy social drinking.

Ken Burns' new documentary is a must-see for those who believe the adage that "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it."

Sarah Longwell is the managing director of the American Beverage Institute in Washington, D.C., an association of restaurants committed to the responsible serving of adult beverages. Contact her at longwell@abionline.org.

 

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Breaking News NLRB 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 10:26:46 AM

 

NLRB delays poster requirement until Jan. 31, 2012

The National Labor Relations Board has announced it is pushing back the date by which employers are required to post a new workplace notice of employees' right to organize into unions.

The NLRB says its notice-posting rule will take effect Jan. 31, 2012, rather than the original deadline of Nov. 14, 2011. In a press release, the NLRB said it postponed the mandate's effective date to "allow for enhanced education and outreach to employers, particularly those who operate small and medium sized businesses."

On Sept. 23, the National Restaurant Association, as an executive committeee member of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, joined in a National Association of Manufacturers' lawsuit against the NLRB to block the notice-posting requirement. That and other lawsuits continue to move forward despite the NLRB's decision to postpone the requirement's effective date.

The NRA and many other business groups have from the beginning questioned the NLRB's authority to impose such a mandate. The NRA and 31 state restaurant associations filed comments last February asking the NLRB to withdraw the proposal, first issued in December. The NRA said the proposal "would mandate the posting of both misleading information to employees and lead to miscommunication between workers and managers."

The NLRB finalized the poster rule in late August, despite comments from the National Restaurant Association and thousands of other employers and employer groups protesting the regulation.

The new regulation for the first time will require all employers subject to the National Labor Relations Act to post a conspicuous 11" x 17" poster outlining employees' rights to organize and bargain collectively.

 

For more information, visit www.restaurant.org or call (202) 331-5900 National Restaurant Association, 1200 17th Street, Washington, DC 20036
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To ensure delivery, please add membership@restaurantorg.fbmta.com to your email address book or 'Safe Sender' List.

 

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US eu alcohol marketers 

Friday, September 30, 2011 2:00:48 PM

US, EU alcohol marketers adopt new code of conduct

Source: AFP

Sep 30th

Leading distillers in the United States and Europe on Friday will enact new social media marketing guidelines they said would promote responsible drinking.

The guidelines, developed by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and the European Forum for Responsible Drinking, limit marketing to websites in which "at least 71.6% of the audience is reasonably expected to be of the legal purchase age," which in the United States is 21.

That would include Facebook, where the estimated over-21 audience is 82.22 percent, Twitter, where it is 86.86 percent, and YouTube, with 80.96 percent, DISCUS said in a statement, citing Nielsen ratings from August.

The new guidelines include a revised privacy policy, a commitment to root out inappropriate user-generated material from websites and instructions urging users to forward downloadable digital content only to adults 21 and up.

"Social media has become an increasingly important marketing channel to reach adult consumers of legal purchase age," DISCUS president Peter Cressy said in a statement.

"These new digital guidelines reflect our companies? strong commitment to extend their responsible marketing practices to these emerging media platforms."

The two spirits groups include US brands Bacardi and Beam, Britain's Diageo -- maker of Guinness, Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff -- and France's Pernod Ricard, Moet Hennessy and Remy Cointreau.

Alcohol Justice, a San Francisco-based group that aims to curtail alcohol promotion, slammed the new guidelines, which research director Sarah Mart called "a new low point in Big Alcohol self-regulation."

"Big Alcohol is spending more than ever before to exploit users, particularly young people, by digitally befriending them and seamlessly integrating alcohol brands into their online lives," Mart said in a statement.

"Meanwhile, the industry front group keeps spinning the same old self-regulation rhetoric for members to hide behind."

 

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CDC Finds Moderate 

Thursday, September 29, 2011 5:50:34 PM

CDC Finds Moderate Drinking Leads To Longer Life; Buries Finding

Source: Forbes

Trevor Butterworth

Sep 20th

Sometimes, it seems as if the nation's public health mandarins are the only responsible adults in a country swarming with perpetual teenagers; and, as with teenagers or children, sometimes the adults can't risk telling the whole truth.

Thus did Thomas Frieden, the director general of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ever so subtly spin the results of a revealing analysis of the impact of four "low risk" lifestyle behaviors on health last month:

"If you want to lead a longer life and feel better, you should adopt healthy behaviors - not smoking, getting regular physical activity, eating healthy, and avoiding excessive alcohol use."

So did that mean that moderate drinking actually improved your likelihood of living longer? Yes it did, even though Frieden couldn't quite bring himself to say so. CDC researchers used data from the 2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) to examine the impact of never having smoked, eating a healthy diet, adequate physical exercise, and moderate alcohol consumption on overall mortality and specific disease related mortality. They found that it pays to be good - or in the bloodless terminology of public health, it pays to follow "low-risk lifestyle behaviors:"

As the number of low-risk lifestyle behaviors increased, the risk of all-cause mortality and mortality from major cardiovascular disease and other causes decreased progressively. Compared with participants with no low-risk lifestyle behaviors, participants with 4 such behaviors were 63% less likely to dies, 66% less likely to die from a malignant neoplasm, 65% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, and 57% less likely to die from other causes.

What happens if you take out moderate drinking? The study (published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Public Health) found that those people who reported one, two or three factors were 25 percent, 40 percent and 55 percent less likely to die (respectively) during the follow up period. Clearly, the contribution of moderate drinking to health was not trivial.

Though there are limitations to the NHANES data (there's a lot of self-reporting), it's the best health data we have on the U.S. population, and the findings tally with studies done elsewhere. Four, fairly basic factors, have a huge impact on health.

But it's that fourth factor, the positive finding on moderate drinking (defined as two drinks for a guy, one for a gal, per day), that appears to be difficult for the CDC to swallow, leading to much throat clearing in the study itself about all the baleful effects of immoderate drinking, and then the evasive language in the CDC press release.

It will also upset those public health mandarins - notably New York City's public health commissioner, Thomas Farley - who attack moderate drinking as being worse than excessive drinking and argue for polices to target moderation (yeah, sounds bizarre - but there's a math to the madness, which you can read more about here).

At least one journalist was misled by the press release into a bit of righteous fulmination, until, that is, he read the study; but at least he was paying some attention: the CDC findings, released in the dead of August, have barely caused a ripple in the media. A blog post in Time and news pieces in Wine Spectator and the Times of Malta are among the few publications to report the findings - with the latter paper, perhaps given its Mediterranean perspective, headlining the news as, "Study recognizes moderate drinking."

And there's the irony: the finding on moderate drinking is precisely what makes this study striking, in terms of news; and if the CDC wasn't so squeamish about saying out straight that moderate drinking was associated with a positive effect on health, it might have captured the kind of public attention this study deserved.

 

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Record-Low Level of Teen Drinking 

Friday, September 23, 2011 9:12:39 AM

By The Beer Institute

Today, Beer Institute President Joe McClain issued the following statement on the release of the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which showed the rates of underage drinking declined to record-low levels:

"Findings from the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health demonstrate the collective efforts of many - including parents, educators, retailers, community leaders, law enforcement, elected officials and members of the beer industry - are having a positive impact in reducing underage drinking. Just last week, we, along with our member companies, proudly announced our continued support of the federal government's 'We Don't Serve Teens' program to help parents and other adults effectively talk about the subject of underage drinking with teens. Efforts like these contribute to the record-low levels of teen drinking we are seeing, but there is still more work to be done. This positive news should only embolden our efforts to continue helping teens make responsible choices."

According to the report released by HHS:

* The rate of current alcohol consumption among youths aged 12 to 20 declined 3 percent since 2009 and 9 percent since 2002 to 26.3 percent, a record low.

* The rate of current alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 17 is also at a record low. The rate was 13.6 percent in 2010, down 7 percent from the 2009 rate of 14.7 percent and 23 percent lower than the 2002 rate.

* Youth binge and heavy drinking rates in both the 12 to 17 and 12 to 20 age groups were also at their lowest rates in 2010.

These findings are consistent with record-low declines observed in other recent underage drinking national studies, including the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Study and the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The Beer Institute and its members have invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the past three decades in community-based programs to help prevent underage drinking and to support public safety, education and prevention campaigns. Brewers and importers also have independently distributed millions of guidebooks, videos and other educational materials to help parents talk with their children about underage drinking, as well as tools and resources to help retailers check and verify IDs and prevent sales to minors.

The results of the HHS survey are available at \http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k10NSDUH/2k10Results.pdf.

The Beer Institute, established in 1986, is the national trade association for the brewing industry, representing both large and small brewers, as well as importers and industry suppliers. The Institute is committed to the development of sound public policy and to the values of civic duty and personal responsibility: www.beerinstitute.org.

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New Rules for Alcohol Companies to Advertise and Market on Social Networks 

Thursday, September 22, 2011 5:29:54 PM

Source: WSJ

By Emily Steel

Sep 20th

Alcohol marketers are going to have to start carding at the door to their social networking fan pages.

Starting Sept. 30, spirits makers in the U.S. and Europe will be held to a new set of self-regulatory guidelines for advertising and marketing on social networking sites and other digital media designed to prevent marketing their products to kids.

Bacardi's Facebook page lists a series of "house rules" for user generated content posted on its page.

The new rules require restricting access to spirits makers' official brand pages on social networking sites, like Facebook, to adults who are of legal drinking age. Marketers also are required to monitor those sites for inappropriate content and to promote responsible drinking.

"What you have is distilled alcohol brands stepping up and saying, 'We want to do things in a socially responsible way when it comes to advertising alcohol,'" says Hemanshu Nigam, chief executive of online safety and privacy firm SSP Blue. Mr. Nigam works as a digital marketing advisor to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), which developed the new guidelines in coordination with the European Forum for Responsible Drinking.

Bacardi rum, for instance, already lists a series of "house rules" on its Facebook page. The company says that it can moderate videos and photos before they are published on the alcohol-brand's page and says that content published on its site must not appeal to or depict people younger than the legal age purchasing alcohol, show situations where alcohol is being consumed "excessively or in an irresponsible manner" or show people "in a state of intoxication," among other restrictions.

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