Areas of Expertise

Alcohol Industry Marketing and Its Impact on Youth

As with the tobacco industry, alcohol marketers consider young people a critical target audience. Youth under the 21 year old drinking age constitute at least 12 percent of the $100 billion alcohol market, and the earlier a young person begins to drink, the more likely he/she is to become a heavy user as an adult.

The alcohol industry spends more than $3 billion each year marketing its products, with a disproportionate share of the spending reaching youth. Innovative marketing techniques include special attention to venues popular with young people, youth oriented visuals and messages, and youth-friendly products like alcopops and alcoholic energy drinks.

Jim Mosher has spent 25 years documenting and analyzing the industry’s tactics, leading campaigns to reduce the impact of alcohol marketing on youth, testifying before U.S. Congress and State legislative committees, and conducting workshops to assist communities in understanding and addressing this critical public health issue.

Social Host Liability – Preventing Underage Drinking Parties

Underage drinking parties constitute a high risk setting for binge drinking, drinking driving, sexual assault, and other forms of violence. Often occurring with minimal or no adult supervision, they disrupt neighborhoods, drain law enforcement resources, and threaten the health and safety of young people and families.

Using his legal expertise and understanding of local governmental processes, Mosher co-authored the Model Social Host Ordinance, a strategy designed for communities to reduce the incidence of underage drinking parties. The ordinance treats these parties as public nuisances as a means to increase parental and other adult supervision and streamline law enforcement responses.

Alcohol Retail Availability and Community Health

Alcohol outlets – bars, restaurants, cocktail lounges, liquor stores – are an important component of a community’s business sector. But too many alcohol outlets in a neighborhood can lead to serious community problems including increased violence, drinking driving, and community blight, particularly when the outlets are poorly operated and regulated.

Fortunately, communities and states have tools for minimizing problems associated with alcohol outlets. The challenge is to understand the tools, learn how to tailor them to specific community circumstances, and organize the political will to use them effectively. Jim Mosher has written extensively on the topic and has assisted communities across the country in promoting healthy alcohol retail environments.

The State Preemption Doctrine: Its Impact on Alcohol Policy Reform

The state preemption doctrine refers to the authority of state governments to restrict the authority of local governments.  It is often used to invalidate effective regulation of potentially dangerous products, including alcohol, tobacco and firearms.  For example, in the early 1980’s more than 100 cities in California enacted ordinances prohibited the concurrent sale of alcohol and gasoline.  The alcohol, convenience store, and oil industries lobbied the California legislature to enact preemptive legislation that invalidated all of the local ordinances.  As this example demonstrates, many alcohol policy reform campaigns start at the local level, where grassroots democratic action can be most successful.  Activists must be alert to the alcohol industry’s tactic of seeking state preemption to frustrate local control.

Mosher is a leading expert on preemption policy and its impact on alcohol policy.  He has written and lectured extensively on the topic.

Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) Programs

Alcohol outlets can play a critical role in reducing community alcohol problems. Approximately one-half of all drinking driving incidents begin at a bar or restaurant, and bars are “hot spots” for crime and violence. Illegal sales to underage purchasers can increase youth drinking problems.

RBS programs provide alcohol retailers with the tools and training to prevent sales and service to intoxicated persons and minors, avoid public nuisance activities, and promote responsible business practices. First proposed in the early 1980s, they have become an integral part of community prevention strategies across the country. Jim Mosher was an early advocate for RBS programs, has written academic treatises on the topic and developed and delivered model training curricula. He also provides expert guidance to policy makers and alcohol policy advocates regarding the implementation of state and local laws mandating or promoting RBS programs.

Dram Shop Liability

Serving or selling alcohol to obviously intoxicated or underage persons can carry a heavy penalty. Not only is this a crime, but it can lead to expensive civil litigation in the form of dram shop liability – law suits brought by the victims of a alcohol-related incident against the person who served alcohol to the instigator of the incident.

Lead author of the definitive two-volume treatise on alcohol liability (Liquor Liability Law, published by Matthew Bender), Jim Mosher is a leading national expert on the topic. He was the first to propose redesigning dram shop laws as a prevention tool – by encouraging RBS programs and judging liability in part by the retailers’ efforts to train staff and adopt internal RBS policies. He has served as an expert consultant in several dram shop and other alcohol litigation cases and assisted policy makers and alcohol policy advocates in developing effective dram shop laws.