Release on NCAA
Letter to members of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors
CSPI's NCAA Action Alert
AMA Statement and Survey Results
Campaign for Alcohol-Free Sports TV Takes on the NCAA
Efforts to reduce alcohol advertising on sports telecasts accelerated during
the winter and spring. U.S. Representative Tom Osborne introduced House
Resolution 145 on March 9, once again calling on the National Collegiate
Athletic Association (NCAA) to voluntarily eliminate alcohol ads in college
sports telecasts. On April 1, the Campaign for Alcohol-Free Sports TV held
press event in St. Louis, MO, the site of the NCAA men’s basketball
tournament Final Four games, which started the following day. The Campaign
released a letter to all members of the NCAA Division I board of directors
urging those 18 college presidents to make an independent and thorough
re-evaluation of the organization’s current practice of allowing alcohol ads
on college games. We pointed out that alcohol ads appear 16 times more
frequently on NCAA games than on general television programming, and
we questioned the cozy relationship between the NCAA and the beer industry,
notably with Anheuser-Busch.
Also in April, in anticipation of the NCAA Division I board meeting at the
end of the month, CSPI issued an
Action Alert that generated more than 900
emails from activists around the country to each of the college presidents
on the board. On the eve of the board meeting, the
Association issued a strong statement opposing alcohol ads on NCAA games and
released results of a public opinion survey finding that more than 70% of
Americans favor taking alcohol ads off college broadcasts, confirming
previous Campaign survey information. Allies such as the Leadership to Keep
Children Alcohol Free (Governors’ Spouses), Join Together, the American
College Health Association, and others also spread the word through their
networks, generating letters and calls to college and NCAA officials on the
No doubt in response to those efforts and others, the NCAA asked its
Executive Committee to recommend comprehensive alcohol advertising policies
for NCAA broadcasts. That action moves the alcohol advertising issue to the
highest policy-making body in the NCAA for deliberation in August.
In addition to the NCAA action on alcohol advertising, the University of
Florida became the latest major school to endorse the College Commitment. The school’s president, Dr. James Bernard Machen, issued a public
statement on April 12, proudly noting that his school was the first in the
Southeastern Conference (SEC) to sign on. News from the major college
athletic conferences also suggests that many are beginning to take the issue
of alcohol advertising seriously. Those that will be reviewing their alcohol
advertising rules this spring – at meetings of athletic directors and
college presidents -- include the Big Ten and the Mid-American conferences.
Although this activity suggests that we’re making progress, we still have a
ways to go in achieving our goal of eliminating alcohol ads during the
telecasts of college sports contests. But the NCAA and colleges around the
country now know that their actions are being watched and that they will be
held accountable for policies that increase, rather than decrease, risk to
their students. We hope you will help us keep the pressure on the NCAA and
its member schools to take action to reduce youth exposure to alcohol ads on
For information related to Advocacy News, please contact Amy Gotwals, Manager of Grassroots Advocacy.
Up-to-date Information on State Tax Actions
Legislative efforts to raise alcohol taxes at the state level have been
accelerating all over the country. Although they have generally been
unsuccessful, the sheer number of active legislative initiatives suggests
that the alcohol tax issue has plenty of life and growing support. Some of
the prominent state battles are highlighted below (for more details, contact
House Bill 6684 would raise all alcohol taxes by 15 percent. On April 21,
the Joint Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee passed a tax bill
(S.B.1321) that incorporated elements of H.B.6684, but did not include the
alcohol tax increases. That action has forced a showdown with the governor,
who is threatening to veto a separate legislative spending bill. The
governor and legislators need to reach a budget deal before the session ends
on June 8.
House Bill 1120 made it through the House and received the endorsement of
the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee before having the alcohol tax
increase provisions eliminated by the full Senate. The bill moved to
Conference Committee, where it passed without alcohol tax increases. Had the
bill passed, the excise tax on beer would have doubled, increasing from 12
to 23 cents/gal; the wine tax would have increased by 25 percent, from 47 to
59 cents/gal; and the liquor tax would have risen by 29 percent, from
$2.68/gal to $3.35/gal.
On March 18, Gov. Ernie Fletcher signed H.B.272 into law. This tax
overhaul bill raises all alcohol sales taxes -- beer, liquor, and wine --
from nine to eleven percent. The tax is levied on wholesalers, and
revenue from the tax is being used to cut personal income taxes.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco has proposed increasing alcohol taxes as one means of
funding pay raises for the state’s poorly paid teachers. She has publicly
stated that she would like to raise teacher salaries by at least $1,000, on
top of an average raise of more than $400 already scheduled to take effect. The governor has proposed raising taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and gambling,
netting some $120 million in new revenue for the state. The legislature,
which convened on April 25 and runs until June 23, will consider the issue.
Two alcohol tax increase bills went down to defeat early in the session. Later, on April 21, Sen. Jane Ranum, who heads the Senate Public Safety
Budget Division, introduced a public safety spending bill that would have
increased the excise tax on beer, wine, and liquor by one penny per drink. The tax proposal failed to survive in the Senate Taxes Committee and was
removed from the bill on April 28.
House Bill 184 would create the “Fund for the Reduction of Alcohol-Related
Problems and Underage Drinking.” That bill would increase the beer tax from
6 to 24 cents/gal; liquor from $2 to $4/gal; and wine from 42 to 78
cents/gal. All new revenue from those taxes would be dedicated -- half to
prevention and the other half to treatment and law enforcement. Impressively, the bill would also index the tax rates to future inflation. Beginning in Fiscal Year 2012, and every fifth year thereafter, the rates
would be adjusted, based on the Consumer Price Index. The bill is currently
in the House Ways and Means Committee, and does not appear to be moving.
Senate Bill 2372 creates a “Responsible Choices Commission,” focusing on
alcohol prevention and treatment. The original proposal included a provision
to fund this commission with a beer tax increase, from 16 to 25 cents/gal. The tax increase was later stripped from the bill, which will require the
commission to raise its own funds. The bill was signed by the governor on
House Bill 66 would double the beer tax, from 18 to 36 cents/gal, and the
wine tax, from 30 to 60 cents/gal. The House approved it the second week of
April, and the Senate is expected to vote sometime in late May. Gov. Bob
Taft favors the tax increases.
After running into opposition from the state legislature for alcohol tax
increases, the South Dakota Association of County Commissioners is taking
the issue directly to voters. The association is working to increase the
liquor tax by a nickel per drink, and they plan to begin circulating
petitions in late May to get the proposal on the 2006 ballot. If enacted,
the tax would generate an estimated $17 million annually for counties.
On May 3, the Senate Finance Committee recommended raising all alcohol taxes
by 25 percent. The Legislature is facing a court order to change the way it
funds its public education system, which currently relies on property taxes. The Senate bill differs significantly from a similar bill in the House, and
the two will have to be reconciled in conference. The Texas Legislature
shuts down on May 30.
House Bill 2314, which was signed by the governor on May 17, raises the
state liquor tax by $1.33/liter. The state operating budget also renews the
42 cents/liter retail liquor tax that was set to expire on June 30. Both tax increases take effect July 1. Washington's
liquor tax now stands at $21.27/gal, or about $5.60/liter. It is the
highest state liquor tax in the United States, according to the Distilled
Spirits Council of the United States.
In the state of beer and brats, Rep. Therese Berceau will soon introduce a
bill that would increase the beer tax by 50 percent, from $2 to $3 per
31-gallon barrel. The tax would raise $4.7 million a year specifically to
pay for alcohol-abuse treatment. Although Wisconsin has the second-lowest
beer tax rate in the nation (after Wyoming), Berceau has encountered major
resistance to her bill, which would raise the price of a six-pack by two
Abercrombie & Fitch Action Alert
In early May, Abercrombie and Fitch, the clothing line so popular among
young people, introduced a new line of t-shirts that promoted dangerous
drinking messages. After roughly two weeks, spurred in part by a large
public backlash (including complaints from alcohol producers and trade
associations), the t-shirt line appears to have been discontinued.
The women’s t-shirt line contained such slogans as: “Sotally Tober,” “If you
can read this, you need another cocktail,” “Bad girls chug. Good girls drink
quickly,” and “Candy is dandy. But liquor is quicker.”
Young men had a choice of “Together we can get the planet trashed,” “I give
to the pour,” “I brews easily,” “Beer Fest Staff,” and “Filler Up.”
All of the t-shirts, except for the men's "Beer Fest Staff" t-shirt, have
been removed from the company's web site and customer service
representatives are telling callers that the shirts are no longer for sale.
Calls to local stores in the Washington, D.C. area, however, indicate that
the shirts were still on shelves as of May 17.
According to the A&F web site: “our casual, classic, all-American lifestyle
brand of clothing is synonymous with quality. Although we specifically
target college students between the ages of 18-22, our appeal is universal.” Other media reports suggest that A&F’s target audience includes teens as
young as 16.
CSPI will continue to monitor this situation closely.