December 1933

21st Amendment Ratified, Prohibition Ended


December 5, 2017 marks 84 years since the United States ratified the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and paved the way for the modern three-tier beverage alcohol system.

WSWA CEO Hails Importance of Cuomo Veto

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) President and CEO Craig Wolf today hailed the importance of a recent veto by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of a bill designed to weaken state beverage alcohol laws and provide special exemptions for certain beverage alcohol license holders.  His November 4 veto message echoes earlier communications from WSWA urging his veto and opposing the bill in the legislature. 

WSWA has repeatedly opposed legislative efforts to weaken state officials’ regulatory authority.  The association has defended the importance of State Liquor Authority (SLA) jurisdiction over its licensees, noting that this strict regulatory oversight is an important element of the three-tier system established under the 21st Amendment. 

“WSWA and our nearly 400 family-owned American wholesalers applaud Governor Cuomo’s decision to oppose the narrow special interests pushing for legislation that weakens the important social responsibility protections established in the wake of Prohibition.  Wholesalers, retailers and suppliers in the modern beverage alcohol industry have a productive and constructive relationship with our state and federal regulators and that sacrosanct principle must be upheld,” Wolf said.

“The modern three-tier system delivers to consumers the widest array of product choice and variety available anywhere in the world—under a regulatory framework that guarantees product integrity, opposes underage access to alcohol, prevents counterfeit product from entering the marketplace and ensures efficient oversight and tax collection,” Wolf said.  “Continued success of this system is dependent upon effective state regulation—and enforcement—without favoritism or special exemption,” he added.

Governor Cuomo’s veto message for Assembly Bill 10248, his second such veto of similar legislation in as many years, stated: “I am equally committed to ensuring that State licensees abide by the [Alcohol Beverage Control Law].  Similar to the legislation I vetoed last year, this bill would allow State licensees to break other states’ laws with no fear of reprisal by the SLA.  Furthermore, even if other states did pursue these entities, they would likely refuse to submit to the other states’ jurisdiction.  This would essentially create a regulatory gap in which these entities would be immune from prosecution.”

WSWA is the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry.  Founded in 1943, WSWA has nearly 400 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia and its members distribute over 80 percent of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the United States.  More information is available at



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