…how lax control is over alcohol use in our country compared to almost any other product, including bottled water…

In a previous blog, I listed the set of Policies which were adopted by IOGT-USA last year. These Policies were designed to put several of the USA’s alcohol issues in perspective and to provide direction as to how we as members of the IOGT can attack these issues. The Policy descriptions also show the influence that the alcohol industry has in America. Many Policies may apply worldwide, while several of them clearly apply only to the USA.

In addition to labeling each of the issues, a brief discussion of the rationale as to why we believe the Policy is of importance is given. This is followed by a section entitled, “What can you do to advance this policy?” This section is designed to offer our members some specific activities that might be undertaken to bring about change in the area of this policy. We believe that it is not enough to describe the situation, but we also should offer some methodology related to helping solve the identified problem.

I have earlier made reference to the first of our policies (Alcohol is a Drug); I now present it as the first of our recently approved policy list.

POLICY #1,  Alcohol is a Drug

We advocate that since alcohol is chemically a drug, all references that are made to the use of alcohol and other drugs be so described. Any use of the terms “drugs and alcohol” or “alcohol and drugs” by the media or anyone else is in error and the person responsible for making the error should be made fully aware of the chemical connection between the substances.

The alcohol industry has been very successful in maintaining as clear a separation as possible between alcohol and other drugs even though, chemically there is essentially a difference only in the effects that each of these drugs has.  However, having this separation between alcohol and other drugs be somehow validated by the government and the press has kept the industry free of all types of restrictions, penalties, etc.   Perhaps the best example of this is when the law actually prevents federal agents who are fighting our “war on drugs” from saying anything about the drug, alcohol.

What can you do to advance this IOGT policy? 

A. You could pause every time you catch yourself saying “alcohol and drugs” and restate it immediately as “alcohol and other drugs” or “drugs, including alcohol.”
B. When hearing “alcohol and drugs” stated by a friend or at a public gathering, feel free to politely suggest more appropriate ways of presenting that information
C. When reading, watching TV, or listening to the radio, if you see or hear the phrase, “alcohol and drugs,” you are encouraged to write a note (a postcard or an email will do) to inform whomever is writing or speaking the incorrect phrase to use more appropriate wording. (You could type up a form note on your computer, and just add the name and address whenever the occasion arises.)

This policy could be an interesting sort of study for the members of a Chapter to report on at each meeting stating how many times they heard/saw the erroneous statement and how these ‘corrections’ were sent.  I would be interested in the results of any such informal or formal study.

POLICY #2,  Alcohol should be regulated by the FDA
We advocate that the alcohol industry be changed from being regulated by the U.S. Justice Department/Treasury Department combination that is currently the case to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) where it clearly belongs.

As further evidence of how the alcohol industry wants to be separate from any affiliation with the terms “drug or drugs,” this situation really describes it well.  After the 9/11 incidents, the federal government reorganized various government agencies when the Homeland Security Law was passed.

Several of the functions of the former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, didn’t quite fit its new Homeland Security mission in the Justice Department, so in the case of alcohol, most, but not all, of the operations were sent to a new office in the Treasury Department instead of to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) where alcohol regulation should have occurred all along.

Tobacco activists have finally been successful in having all tobacco products be regulated under the FDA, so the precedent for change in this direction is clearly there.

What can you do to advance this policy? 

A. You, your family members and members of your Chapter and Council can write letters to your Senators, Congressmen/women, and the President, voicing your displeasure with the current way by which alcohol is being regulated and describe how the change can be effected.  Such letters could be written every month with perhaps cosmetic changes made on each new letter.
B. Your Council can make this an annual part of each meeting, continuing until the federal agency status is finally changed.
C. You and your Chapter can write letters to the newspaper and local TV media letting them, and the general public, know how lax control is over alcohol use in our country compared to almost any other consumable product, including bottled water.

This policy clearly applies primarily to the USA. It indicates just how powerful the alcohol industry is in this country and the extent that the industry will go to avoid any truly meaningful regulation.