In the Doghouse

New York Gov. Cuomo Honors Alcohol Industry

CuomoSummitNovember 6, 2012

It reads like an Onion story, and yet it’s all too true: Last month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo invited alcohol producers to Albany for a summit about alcohol. Not to discuss how to the industry leaders can help reduce alcohol-related harm, as the public might hope to see from the leader of a state with major drinking problems. No, the Governor's state summit honored alcohol producers for their contribution to the state’s economy.  The summit was held at Governor Cuomo’s Executive Mansion, and featured an elaborate tasting room where more than 2 dozen wineries, breweries, and distilleries offered samples.

Besides commending the “phenomenal growth” of the New York State alcohol market, Governor Cuomo also committed $3 million from the state's coffers to fund ad campaigns for the alcoholic beverages. You heard that right: New York taxpayers will be subsidizing additional alcohol advertising, which leads to increased consumption and related harm. The producers and their products being advertised with taxpayer dollars are the same ones that already cause billions of dollars in economic harm each year. We have to wonder what the people who lost their homes to Hurricane Sandy think about that.

The story is so ludicrous, it's nearly laughable. But rather than a joke, it is another example of politicians pandering to the powerful alcohol industry in ways that directly subvert the interests of--and harm--their constituents.