Drink Tank

Mobilising communities to combat Big Alcohol

In the United States of America (USA), there are 89,000 deaths attributed nationally to alcohol. At the Global Alcohol Policy Conference, Bruce Livingston*, the Executive Director of industry watchdog Alcohol Justice (United States of America), shared how his organisation addresses alcohol problems and overcomes Big Alcohol’s media spin.

Too many children are seeing the ads. Alcohol Justice has focused on outdoor advertising on public property – we’ve had complete success in California in eliminating alcohol advertising on our mass transit; and it’s catching on in other states.

Campaigns to limit alcohol advertising in all media, especially on government-controlled property and where children or targeted populations are exposed, together with building a strong coalition model for advocacy have been critical to Alcohol Justice’s success.

Alcohol Justice have been successful in getting caffeine out of alcopops, and continue to advocate for a ban on product lines (such as alcopops and malt liquors) being advertised to underage youth and vulnerable or targeted populations.

To bridge state borders, Alcohol Justice actively produce press releases, videos, social media content, email blasts to congress members, and mobilise constituents to take action.

We teach people that they can campaign, lobby and change regulation and law.

With an enormous amount of ‘alcohol’ money involved in politics, Mr Livingston says it is important to focus on the people that matter.

Things don’t happen without community support. We have to find constituencies and mobilise them to speak for themselves. The key for us in implementing alcohol policy change is to mobilise [diverse] constituencies.

If communities don’t get involved to make change it’s not going to change. What makes a difference is to have people power in the halls of power.

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* Bruce brings more than 30 years of policy analysis, community organizing, and program management experience to the Executive Director position, which he began in 2006. He trains on environmental prevention of alcohol problems and challenges media spin of Big Alcohol’s latest attempts to deregulate.



Drink Tank aims to generate meaningful commentary and debate about alcohol policy, and to provide a platform for all members of the Australian community to share their views and concerns.

Our goal is for the Drink Tank community to engage in robust discussion about alcohol, highlighting a broad spectrum of views and voices, and ultimately to raise the profile of alcohol as an issue of national importance.

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