Wednesday, August 8, 2012

WineAmerica Opposes Federal Agency Merger Placing Wine Consumption with Illicit Drug Use

WineAmerica joins industry colleagues in opposing a federal agency merger that would place wine consumption under the same umbrella as illicit drug use.   The following letter was signed by: The Beer Institute, The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, The Wine Institute, Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, The American Beverage Institute, The American Beverage Licensees, WineAmerica, The National Association of Beverage Importers, and The National Beer Wholesalers Association. 

August 3, 2012

Ms. Ellen Murray, Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources
Mr. Jim Esquea, Assistant Secretary for Legislation
United States Department of Health and Human Services
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Ms. Murray and Mr. Esquea,

 As representatives of the hospitality industry, we would like to thank you very much for meeting with
our leaders on Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 regarding the proposed merger of  the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Our
group was most appreciative of your time and attention.

We wish to reemphasize by this letter that while we greatly appreciate the sincere intentions of those
who support such a merger, we believe it is not in the best interest of society and would greatly reduce
the emphasis necessary to solve the vast majority of the issues related to the harmful use of alcohol. As
we discussed in our meeting, we agree that there are aspects of addiction research that would benefit
from a more integrated approach across scientific Institutes. That said we believe the vast majority of
issues related to the harmful use of alcohol fall outside this narrow construct and are of such
importance that a free standing Institute within NIH dedicated to research in this area is essential.

Moreover, we believe the intent of the Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) can be better and more effectively achieved through a functional merger rather than a potentially expensive, contentious and risky structural merger. In this regard we note that NIH has successfully executed several functional mergers and cite effective work along these lines in the areas of neuroscience and neurotherapeutic treatment. We urge the Secretary’soffice to pursue this option. This approach would have the full support of the hospitality industry.

It is important also to recognize that the vast majority of those who consume beverage alcohol do so in
moderation and that the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines make it clear that the moderate consumption of
beverage alcohol can be part of a normal healthy diet. Our segment of the hospitality industry, 5.3
million strong, is made up of more than 200,000 restaurants and taverns, thousands of wineries and
farms, breweries, distillers, importers, retailers, wholesalers and suppliers. Neither these hard working
people nor our millions of responsible consumers is comfortable having their quality legal products
considered in the same light as illegal and illicit drugs and have historically opposed any such
association.

We strongly oppose the harmful use of beverage alcohol and have long supported evidence-based
programs to prevent and reduce alcohol abuse, tough laws and firm enforcement. In the same vein we
have and continue to support the critical research conducted by NIAAA. We also recognize the need for
integrated research across Institute boundaries in this field. As previously stated, we strongly believe
this can best be achieved through a functional merger. We stand ready to work with you to affect a
solution along these lines that is best for society and public health.

 

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