Tavern League of Wisconsin
The Tavern League of Wisconsin (TLW) is a trade association of alcoholic beverage retailers in the state of Wisconsin. The League was created in 1935, two years after the end of Prohibition, and today has 5,000 members. The League is headquartered in Fitchburg, Wisconsin.
The TLW lobbies for member interests at the state and federal level, and supports members in complying with legal issues facing their businesses. Issues include opposition to increases in alcohol and cigarette taxes and licensing laws seen as onerous, and opposition to restrictions on gambling machines. The TLW supports programs that aim to combat drunk driving by providing rides to and from bars. At the same time, the TLW has condemned campaigns against binge drinking in Wisconsin as an attempt to "demonize" people who drink casually to relax. In 2005, lobbyists with the TLW were investigated by the State Ethics Board; the investigation was launched after State Senator Russell Decker was pulled over for drunk driving shortly after leaving an all-you-can-drink event for lawmakers hosted by the TLW.
The TLW has focused especially on opposing smoking bans in drinking establishments. When a smoking ban law was proposed in 2008, the TLW worked with state senate majority leader Decker to insert provisions requiring that the ban would not take effect until July 5, 2010, giving members time to adapt, and preventing municipalities from passing laws that would have the same effect in the grace period. An editorial in the Appleton Post-Crescent stated that this "derailed" the bill. Previously, the TLW had received money and lobbying help from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to fight smoking ban legislation in Wisconsin. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison accused the TLW of working in concert with the tobacco industry and other trade groups to undermine Wisconsin's anti-smoking efforts, particularly its attempts to restrict the sale of cigarettes to minors. The study's conclusions were disputed by Philip Morris and by other members of the coalition.
- Reducing alcohol-impaired driving crashes through the use of social marketing (2006), Rothschild, M.L., Mastin, B., Miller, T.W. Accident Analysis & Prevention 38-6, pg 1218-1230
- Johnson, Dirk (2008-11-15). "Some See Big Problem in Wisconsin Drinking". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- "Ethics Inquiry Into Unlimited Beer". New York Times. 2005-04-02. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- "Decker can follow hometown on Wisconsin smoking ban". Appleton Post Crescent. 2008-12-23. Retrieved 2008-12-25.[dead link]
- Crosby, Michael (2007-06-16). "It's time to make all Wisconsin workplaces smoke-free". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
- Simms, Patricia (2002-10-24). "Lobbyists Erode War On Tobacco, Researcher Says". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
Ahrens' study of internal tobacco company documents reports the coalition lobbied for policies, including low cigarette taxes and limits to clean indoor air ordinances, that contributed to the state's high rates of youth smoking, illegal tobacco sales to minors, and exposure to second-hand smoke in workplaces.