Washington Law Review


Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug in America today; yet, there has been no serious national effort to warn or educate the American public about the non-obvious dangers of its consumption. Courts refuse to impose liability on alcoholic beverage manufacturers for injuries arising out of their failure to warn consumers of the dangers of alcoholic beverages. They reason that the risks of alcohol consumption are widely known among the consuming public. Yet, Americans are actually less aware of the dangers of alcohol consumption than of the risks of smoking. This problem may be solved in several ways. A first step would be to impose tort liability on manufacturers for harm to consumers due to failure to warn. A second step would involve federal regulatory action. Congress could institute a national, uniform public education and labeling program which would make specific health hazard messages available to all alcoholic beverage consumers. Two bills requiring such health hazard warnings on the labels of all alcoholic beverage containers were recently introduced in Congress. If enacted, they could provide consumers with the same basic information on alcohol that is available on most other legal drugs, as well as identify specific dangers associated with alcohol. By expanding the proposed legislation to include a public education program, Congress could decisively promote public awareness.

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