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History of Industry Responsibility

After Prohibition ended, the industry immediately united in promoting responsibility and moderation. The distillersí efforts to combat alcohol abuse and encourage responsibility have spanned decades. The distillers are proud of their longstanding commitment to social responsibility and will continue to lead the way in this important effort.

1930s    1940s    1950s    1960s    1970s    1980s    1990s    2000s


  • Within months of Prohibitionís repeal, the distillers created a voluntary Code of Good Practice to ensure that distilled spirits advertising is responsible, dignified and intended for adults. The Code (link to code), still in existence today, has 39 provisions regarding the responsible placement and content of distilled spirits advertising and marketing.

  • Some of the first responsibility ads were "We Who Make Whiskey Say: 'Drink Moderately'" (1934), "Drinking and Driving Do Not Mix" (1937), "Some Men Should Not Drink" (1938).


  • Spirits industry funded the development of a breathalyzer. Today, the breathalyzer is the most commonly-used tool to enforce drunk driving laws.

  • DISCUS sponsored one of the first projects in medical research on alcoholism at Cornell University.

  • DISCUS was the charter supporter of the Yale (now Rutgers) Center of Alcohol Studies.

  • Spirits industry partnered with the National Institute of Health to collect data and publish annual reports regarding the problems of alcoholism.


  • Spirits industry partnered with the National Institute of Health to collect data and publish annual reports regarding the problems of alcoholism.


  • Spirits industry funded the independent development of alcohol education source books including Alcohol Education for Classroom and Community for high school and college teachers. As part of this effort, DISCUS provided a series of grants to the National Education Association to develop Learning About Alcohol, a popular and widely used textbook.


  • DISCUS partnered with National Football League (NFL) and the Education Commission of the States for several consecutive seasons to co-sponsor national TV and radio messages helping parents educate young people about alcohol. The award winning broadcast ads featured famous football players including Walter Payton, Joe Theismann and Fran Tarkenton. In addition, thousands of educational materials including posters and pamphlets and millions of special NFL schedules with moderation messages were distributed through a wide network of industry organizations.
  • DISCUS co-sponsored and planned the first statewide program on the prevention of alcohol abuse in Texas.
  • DISCUS launched national public service advertising program encouraging adults who choose to drink to do so responsibly. This campaign evolved into massive public service advertising programs. The industry-sponsored theme of "If you choose to drink, drink responsibly" evolved into award-winning messages: "A license to drive doesnít mean a license to drink"; "Anyone who canít walk a straight line, canít drive one." These messages appeared in virtually every kind of print media including national and regional magazines, daily newspapers, subways and commuter trains. In addition, student advisers and counselors often reprinted them for school and agency use.
  • The Department of Transportation (DOT) co-sponsored with DISCUS the national "Know Your Limits" campaign which included the distribution of millions of wallet cards explaining blood alcohol concentrations.
  • DISCUS supported the pioneering development of a model course on alcoholism diagnosis and treatment for medical school education by a Harvard Medical School researcher. The course was instituted at approximately 90 medical schools.
  • DISCUS joined other beverage alcohol industry members in 1979 to create the Licensed Beverage Information Council (LBIC), a non-profit organization with educational programs on alcohol and pregnancy, drunk driving, and alcoholism as a treatable disease.


  • The distillers, through LBIC, worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the 1983 Healthy Mothers/Healthy Babies campaign. The campaign, endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General, included posters and consumer information cards on drinking and pregnancy that were distributed to 8,000 health clinics nationwide.
  • DISCUS partnered with the NFL and the Education Commission of the States to develop "Straight Talk About Alcohol," a booklet designed to help parents and teenagers improve their communications on the subject of alcohol.
  • DISCUS was an early and active supporter of BACCHUS (Boost Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students). DISCUS provided financial support to BACCHUS and helped give the organization national exposure through the DISCUS-NFL television public service messages.
  • DISCUS became a sponsor of Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD) and provided a grant to assist in establishing chapters nationwide.
  • DISCUS promoted and distributed the Contract for Life, a contract developed by SADD which committed parents and teens to help each other arrange safe transportation if they or their driver are ever unfit to drive.
  • DISCUS President was one of 30 Americans appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve on the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving. DISCUS continues to serve on the Commissionís successor organization, the National Commission Against Drunk Driving.
  • Along with the DOT and the National Safety Council, DISCUS sponsored a series of "Lifesavers Conferences" which focused on efforts to reduce drunk driving.
  • Distillers co-sponsored with DOT the "Friends Donít Let Friends Drive Drunk" campaign to combat drunk driving and to promote the use of designated drivers. The campaign included billboard, television and radio public service messages. President Ronald Reagan, in his radio address, applauded the industryís participation in the campaign.


  • The distillers funded a two part television series written and produced by the American Medical Association entitled, "Understanding and Treating Alcoholism." The program, which provided continuing medical education credits for physicians, was provided to every medical school in the nation.
  • DISCUS crafted and promoted state-by-state model legislation, "The Drunk Driving Prevention Act," designed to strengthen drunk driving laws in all states. The model legislation includes zero tolerance for individuals under 21 years of age, stiff administrative license revocation penalties, prohibitions on open containers, and mandatory alcohol education for all drivers. To date, some or all of these provisions have been adopted by most states.
  • DISCUS provided funding for the national TIPS Program (Training for Intervention Procedures by Servers of Alcohol), an educational program designed for those who serve beverage alcohol.
  • DISCUS partnered with the National Consumers League on an alcohol equivalence campaign ensuring that consumers know that standard servings of beer, wine and distilled spirits all contain the same amount of alcohol.
  • Americaís leading distillers create The Century Council (link to, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking.


  • DISCUS, working together with five universities to sponsor and convene, "The American Campus and Alcohol Conference" in Washington D.C. The conference, attended by 34 universities including 28 university presidents, teamed together the beverage alcohol industry, government, campuses and their communities to address alcohol abuse on our nationís campuses.
  • DISCUS along with local retailers and wholesalers award grants totaling $300,000 to 17 universities to fund alcohol abuse prevention programs.
  • DISCUS sponsors five regional college conferences, similar in format to the national conference, in Louisiana, Texas, Florida, New York and Connecticut. Two regional conferences per year have been planned through 2005.
  • A physician continuing medical education program, Alcohol Education Center, was developed by Dr. Mark Gold at University of Florida to provide education to physicians on all aspects of alcohol consumption including moderate consumption, disease, abuse, dependence and treatment. This online program is offered free of charge through a five year continuing grant from DISCUS and other organizations. The Educational Tool Kit on Beverage Alcohol Consumption and Standard Drinks Model (link to toolkit), jointly developed by DISCUS and a panel of experts, is a compendium of research, assessment tools and patient handouts. The patient handouts, brief alcohol assessment tool and standard drinks model have been favorably reviewed by American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation and the Nutrition Educators for Health Professionals of the American Dietetic Association. These materials are being used by health professionals across the country to discuss with their patients.
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