Three-Tier System

What is the Three-Tier System?

Following the repeal of Prohibition on December 5, 1933, Congress enacted the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAAAct). This act led to states adopting various laws that created a “Three-Tier System” for the production, distribution and sale of alcohol. MassPack is committed to preserving the integrity of the state-based alcohol control system that has evolved under the 21st Amendment and regulated in Massachusetts under M.G.L. c 138.

The Origin of America’s State-Based Alcohol Regulatory System *

* Video provided and produced by the Center for Alcohol Policy

Efficient & Effective Means of Assuring Responsible Commerce

The Three-Tier System is a pro-competitive and economic mechanism for the orderly marketing, taxation and sale of alcohol beverages. Over $43 Billion dollars of applicable federal, state and local excise taxes have been collected annually under the Three-Tier System over the past eighty years. In 2016, the beverage alcohol industry was responsible for $25.3 billion in federal taxes and an additional $18.36 billion in state and local taxes.

Promoting Responsibility and Accountability

MassPack is dedicated to the responsible sale and service of alcohol beverages to adult customers by its members. The Three-Tier System strengthens the beverage alcohol industry’s ability to account for its products, responsibly provide them to consumers, and prevent access of alcohol to those who are underage or should otherwise not be served or sold beverage alcohol.

“Unquestionably Legitimate” System Offers Unparalleled Consumer Options

In 2005, the Supreme Court confirmed that the Three-Tier System is ‘unquestionably legitimate’. The Court’s language reaffirms the right of states to regulate the beverage alcohol marketplace that currently offers an unparalleled and never-before-seen selection of beer, wine and spirits to adult consumers.

Safeguarding the Three-Tier System

The beverage alcohol three-tier system in Massachusetts and the United States are under attack from every possible direction. Whether it is a national retailer working toward blending the tiers, or direct shippers aiming to expand their e-commerce businesses, or manufacturers seeking to be producer, distributor and retailer, the regulatory system for alcoholic beverages is under extreme pressure.

The Dangers of Alcohol Deregulation: The United Kingdom Experience
vs. American Alcohol Regulation

* Video provided and produced by the Center for Alcohol Policy

The Massachusetts Package Stores Association (MassPack) is a non-profit trade organization representing the interests of the thousands of independently-owned retail liquor stores across Massachusetts. MassPack is keenly aware of the business challenges its members face including: rising operational costs; changing competitive landscape; new insurance requirements; wage and labor issues; government regulations; legislative issues; preventing illegal sales and more.



Massachusetts Package Stores Association, Inc.
30 Lyman St., Suite 2 / Westborough, MA 01581
Phone: (508) 366-1100 / Fax: (508) 366-1104

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