Legislation

Key legislation related to FASD include the following:

  • Alcohol Beverage Labeling Act (1988)
    Alcohol Beverage Labeling Act warns of danger of alcohol use during pregnancy. In order to address the problem of fetal alcohol syndrome, the FDA Commissioner wrote to the BATF Director on November 15, 1977 requesting that the BATF “initiate immediately whatever procedures are necessary to require the placement on the labeling of alcoholic beverages of a warning against consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol by pregnant women. I hope that BATF, which now has exclusive responsibility for such labeling, will move promptly to address this serious health risk. On January 13, 1978, in response to this request, BATF requested comments on this proposal, by issuing an advanced notice of proposed rule making in the Federal Register. However, over one year later, the BATF issued a progress report on January 25, 1978, which rejected warning labels for a public awareness campaign to alert consumers of the possible dangers. In 1979, the Senate passed a bill requiring warning labels on all alcoholic beverages, but the House of Representatives failed to pass this bill. In 1986, a similar bill introduced into Congress failed to pass.

    This initial request by the FDA was finally executed when Title VIII of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, amended the FAA Act by designating the existing sections of the FAA Act as “Title I,” and by adding at the end a new title, “Title II—Alcoholic Beverage Labeling.” This title, cited as the “Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act of 1988” required that a specific health warning statement appear on the labels of all containers of alcoholic beverages and authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to implement them and enforce them. The original bill began with both the United States House and the Senate having bills which would have required five separate warning labels to be rotated regularly on the containers of each brand of alcoholic beverage made by a manufacturer.] Under the proposed House bill, the FDA would have had the power to enforce these requirements and issue necessary regulations. However, the proposed Senate bill, which was the bill which ultimately became the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 gave the BATF the power to enforce these requirements.

    Accordingly, as part of its statutory mandate, on February 14, 1990 the BATF issued a final rule. The regulations require that the following health warning statement appear on the labels of all containers of alcoholic beverages sold or distributed in the United States:

    GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) ACCORDING TO THE SURGEON GENERAL, WOMEN SHOULD NOT DRINK ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES DURING PREGNANCY BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF BIRTH DEFECTS. (2) CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES IMPAIRS OUR ABILITY TO DRIVE A CAR OR OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY, AND MAY CAUSE HEALTH PROBLEMS.

    For purposes of title II, the term “alcoholic beverage” included any beverage which contained no less than one-half of one percent (0.5%) of alcohol by volume. Thus, the term included not only distilled spirits products, malt beverages, wines, but wine coolers as well. The rule’s stated purpose was to promote the public health and safety and it became effective and mandatory on November 14, 1990.


  • Fetal Alcohol Exposure Prevention (1995): Substitute Senate Bill 5688.
    In 1995 the Washington State Legislature unanimously passed Substitute Senate Bill 5688. This legislation directed the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Corrections (DOC) to execute an agreement to ensure the coordination of programs for individuals who have had fetal alcohol exposure and for women at high risk of having children with fetal alcohol exposure. This legislation also included the first provision in Washington State history for family advocacy groups to participate in the planning, development, delivery, and review of services that are administered or contracted by the agencies executing the agreement. The Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA) has voluntarily served as program chair of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Interagency Workgroup (FASIAWG) since it's inception in 1995, to ensure continued development and implementation of services.

    Other members of the FASIAWG include:

    • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Family Resource Institute (FAS*FRI)
    • NOFAS Washington
    • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Diagnostic and Prevention Network (FAS DPN),
      University of Washington
    • Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit (FADU) which includes
      Parent Child Assistance Program (PCAP), University of Washington
    • Governor's Office of Indian Affairs (GOIA)
    • March of Dimes, Washington Chapter (MOD)
    • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Information Service (FASIS)


  • Birth Defects from Alcohol-Warning Required (1993): RCW 66.16.110
    Washington State Point-of-Purchase Alcohol Warning Signs. The board shall cause to be posted in conspicuous places, in a number determined by the board, within each state liquor store, notices in print not less than one inch high warning persons that consumption of alcohol shortly before conception or during pregnancy may cause birth defects, including fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects. (RCW refers to the Revised Code of Washington. The RCW is a compilation of all permanent laws now in force).

  • Drug-Affected and Alcohol-Affected Infants - Comprehensive Plan (1998): RCW 13.34.805.
    The Department of Health and the Department of Social and Health Services shall develop a comprehensive plan for providing services to mother who (a) have delivered a drug or alcohol exposed or affected infant, and (b) meet the definition of at-risk eligible persons in RCW 74.09.790 and who have a child up to three years of age. The services to be provided by the plan will include those defined in RCW 74.09.790. The plan shall provide for the coordination of services through community-based programs and among: (i) The department; (ii) the departments' divisions; and (iii) other state agencies. The plan shall include recommendations to the legislature for implementing the plan and any alternative methods for addressing the needs of these mothers and their children.

  • FAS Awareness Day: (2004).
    Governor Gary Locke proclaims September 9th as "Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day" to encourage Washington residents to help develop prevention and education programs to eradicate this completely preventable cause of birth defects.


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