CSPI News Release

For Immediate Release March 2, 1999

For More Information Contact:

George Hacker
(202) 332-9110 ext. 343

Center for Science in the
Public Interest
1875 Connecticut Ave. NW #300
Washington, DC 20009
Fax 202/265-4954

In February, 1999, the wine industry began testing an advertising campaign in Austin, Texas and Albany, New York aimed at increasing wine consumption among young and traditionally infrequent drinkers. The wine industry will spend $1.3 million on the test campaign.

CSPI Criticizes New Wine Industry Advertising Campaign

Statement of George Hacker,
Director,
Alcohol Policies Project

The wine industry's new advertising campaign to promote everyday drinking is a direct assault on public health and safety in America. By targeting younger drinkers and less frequent imbibers, the Wine Market Council's (WMC) marketing campaign is taking a giant leap in the wrong direction. By suggesting that wine routinely belongs on the table with dinner, while watching television, or as a 'celebration' of an average day, vintners are pushing wine as a substitute not only for beer, but also for fruit juice, coffee, tea, and bottled water.

The wine industry should not compare wine sales with that of bottled water or healthful beverages. An increased use of alcohol by a younger target group may lead to higher levels of alcoholism and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and chronic disease as the target group grows older. Alcohol causes more than 100,000 deaths each year and costs the nation more than $160 billion in economic harm. The WMC campaign, launched in Austin, Texas and Albany, New York, may expand nationwide if it is successful in these two markets.

In the past, the wine and other alcoholic-beverage industries steadfastly claimed that their advertising was intended only to promote brand competition and to introduce new products. In an apparent about-face, the industry has changed its tune to 'drink wine as early and often as possible -- and forget the consequences.'

There is some epidemiologic evidence that moderate drinking is associated with health benefits in some individuals. However, the national health goals in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2000, Goals for the Nation call for a 24% reduction in overall alcohol consumption. The Wine Market Council ad campaign that began in mid-February turns the HHS recommendation on its head and provides the latest example of legal drug promotion at the expense of public health and well-being.