By Tom Precious
ALBANY – As the beer, wine and spirits industries meet today in Albany to talk about their booming businesses in New York, an alcoholism treatment advocate said he hopes Gov. Andrew Cuomo and industry executives also address the problems of underage and problem drinking.
“There’s a correlation between increased access to alcohol and problem drinking and underage drinking. As the industry thrives or as the industry becomes stronger in new York, I would hope that the social conscience of the industry would trend in the direction of supporting underage drinking prevention, supporting access to treatment and community-based treatment and recovery programs," said John Coppola, executive director of the New York State Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers.
The alcoholic beverage industry has been booming in recent years – Cuomo today said job growth has doubled in four years – thanks, in part, to state policies that have encouraged the growth of such businesses as farm breweries and distillers.
Coppola noted that the state Gaming Commission Wednesday is holding a hearing with gambling addiction treatment experts in advance of decisions the agencies will make later this year to increase by four the number of Las Vegas-style casinos in the state. “We really haven’t seen that kind of effort from the alcoholic beverage industry,’’ Coppola said.
Coppola said he is more worried about worsening underage drinking problems as a result of large, national alcoholic beverage interests than many of the kinds of new businesses opening in New York in recent years, since many of these Empire State producers are small and make higher-end products with product price tags that are beyond the reach for many teenagers. He said dealings he has had with the smaller producers is that most are “very responsible.”
“As we call attention to how strong this industry is becoming in New York and if it’s good for the economy and people are being responsible, fantastic. On the other hand, we have massive marketing efforts in magazines, billboards and TV that are clearly marketing underage drinking … I would not lay this at the feet of smaller, niche beer and wine folks. I don’t think they’re directly marketing to kids,’’ he said. “That being said, I would hope that their voice is strong, that they set a good example and I would hope the governor and others hold the industry as a whole to some sense of responsible advertising and responsible distribution of their product."’
taggedAlbany | Andrew Cuomo