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Taking responsibility.

For several years now we've noted in this space that control state officials are in a unique position. As state regulators, they are required to control the sale and distribution of beverage alcohol products through the state system. They also must help enforce the laws and regulations regarding the responsible use and legal sale of these products, as well as use their position to help educate the public concerning the proper use and abuse of beverage alcohol products. On the other hand, as wholesalers and sometimes retailers of those same products, they are expected to grow revenues based on the business, in order to help generate income for the states. Indeed, overall, the control states have been overwhelmingly successful in this effort, modernizing their systems through up-to-date inventory control, category management, customer service techniques and upgrades throughout their front and back office operations.

Ed Schmidt, the NABCA Chairman-Elect and Director of the Wyoming Department of Revenue, calls it a "balancing act," which just happens to be the title of our cover story profile of him (see page 14).

At the same time, Schmidt--and every other control state agency head--must view themselves as advocates for social responsibility regarding all elements of the beverage alcohol community. Indeed, it is the theme of this year's 70th Annual NABCA Conference. Phil Lane, NABCA Chairman, explained it succinctly in his recent Letter from the Chairman: "The Control States and the NABCA are committed to encouraging all sectors of the alcohol community ... i.e., Public Health, Enforcement, Research, Government and Industry, to work towards reducing the harm caused by underage drinking and the abuse of alcohol." Lane further noted that, "To point the finger of blame at any one sector decreases the chances of effective collaboration. It is incumbent upon us all to work cooperatively to insure a safe, responsible, modern environment of the sale and distribution of alcohol."

Lang has pointed to an important role he and others see for the NABCA: to be an organization that, because of its central but neutral position among those in the beverage alcohol community, can serve as a forum for bringing groups together to solve problems, not "to point the finger of blame."

Indeed, control state officials are not alone in their concern about social responsibility. Nine members of the NABCA Industry Steering Committee have offered their own comments (see page 28) on what their companies and other industry organizations that they support have been doing to help foster responsible use of their products.

Let's hope the publicity surrounding the "Social Responsibility" theme at this year's Conference can serve as a call to action to continue and expand upon the many initiatives already taking place throughout the control states.

Richard Brandes, Editor-in-Chief
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Title Annotation:BY THE WAY
Author:Brandes, Richard
Date:May 1, 2007
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