Distilling the distillers: examining the political activities of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States

Matthew Lesch*, Jim McCambridge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Understanding of the alcohol industry's means of influencing public policy is increasingly well established. Less is known, however, about the specific organisations that lead the political strategies of the alcohol industry. To fill this gap, this paper explores the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), a key trade association in the United States (US), which also operates internationally.

METHODS: This study explores how DISCUS is organised and the main political activities it pursues to advance its policy interests. The study triangulates data from several sources, including DISCUS documents, as well as federal lobbying and election expenditure data.

RESULTS: This study demonstrates that DISCUS is a key political actor in the US and global alcohol policymaking context. There are identifiable strategies used by DISCUS to shape alcohol policy debates, including framing and lobbying. We also find key synergies between these strategies and identify their operation at varying levels of policy decision-making.

CONCLUSIONS: Generating more secure inferences about the nature of the alcohol industry's efforts to advance its interests, and with what success and at what cost, requires researchers to investigate other trade associations in different contexts, and use other data sources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
Number of pages13
JournalGlobalization and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023. The Author(s).


  • Humans
  • United States
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Politics
  • Public Policy
  • Policy Making
  • Lobbying

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