For Immediate Release June 17, 2024

Archaic Alcohol Regulatory System Must Modernize Argues New White Paper

—National Association of Wine Retailers Publishes “Modernizing Alcohol Regulation”— 

Over 90 years after it was first proposed and implemented in most states, the three-tier system of alcohol distribution has proven that it cannot address the needs of a modern society and changed culture, argues a new white paper released by the National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR). “Modernizing Alcohol Regulation” suggests that a new set of principles, not addressed by the nearly 100-year-old three-tier system, must guide a new approach to alcohol regulation in the United States.

The New white paper can be downloaded at the NAWR Website.

“Modernizing Alcohol Regulation” demonstrates that the underlying principles of the three-tier system do not address the primary economic, social, and political concerns of a 21st-century America—a society that bears no resemblance to the conditions existing in the late 19th and early 20th century that the three-tier system was created to address.

Replacing an Archaic System Incapable of Addressing a Modern Industry

Originally designed and deployed to prevent the return of the “Tied House System ” prevalent before Prohibition, the three-tier system’s most important feature is the legal mandate that producers and suppliers must go through middlemen wholesalers before their products may be sold at retail, while retailers may only procure inventory from the same wholesalers. “Modernizing Alcohol Regulation” argues this mandate is inappropriate in 2024 and does not address contemporary issues surrounding alcohol sales and consumption. The new NAWR white paper proposes a new set of principles to guide a modern alcohol regulatory system as well as proposed policies derived from those principles.

“A broad discussion of the significant infirmities of the three-tier system is long overdue,” explains Tom Wark, executive director of the National Association of Wine Retailers. “The archaic three-tier system not only hampers innovation within the alcohol industry but fails to draw attention to the most important concerns and desires of consumers and is leading to anti-competitive practices that harm producers, retailers, importers, consumers, and even small distributors. This white paper attempts to refocus attention on the most important issues facing the alcohol beverage industry and society.”

Issues addressed in “Modernizing Alcohol Regulation” include:

-The origins of the three-tier system

-How social, cultural, and economic changes have rendered the three-tier system obsolete

-The key principles a modern alcohol regulatory system should uphold

-Proposed changes to alcohol law that derive from appropriate principles

“Modernizing Alcohol Regulation” was written with lawmakers, the alcohol regulatory community American wine retailers, and alcohol industry practitioners in mind. It is the most comprehensive review of the current alcohol regulatory system reform proposal offered in the past two decades.

About the National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR)

NAWR is a national trade association representing brick-and-mortar alcohol retailers, Internet-based retailers, wine clubs, and auction houses. It represents its members’ interests through lobbying and litigation efforts, providing member benefits, and educating the alcohol industry as well as lawmakers. For more information see

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Tom Wark, Executive Director
National Association of Wine Retailers
(971) 332-5057 • [email protected]