Welcome to the inaugural edition of CSPI's Washington Report,
a new online resource!
Produced by the Alcohol Policies
Project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington Report
provides online information and updates about federal and state alcohol-policy issues,
including alcohol advertising and marketing, labeling, product development,
taxation, and industry political and commercial initiatives. Washington
also provides action alerts to inform advocates of opportunities
to promote and influence pro-health alcohol policies.
Federal Policy Update
Congress Asks for a Study on Underage Drinking
ATF Asleep at the Wheel
on Liquor-Branded "Alcopops"
Representatives Call for Hearing on Alcohol Ads and Children
Alcohol Policy Outlook for the 108th
Policies Project Advocacy News
Hundreds Protest ONDCP’s Beer Links
NFL To Promote Hard Liquor
Abercrombie & Fitch Fashions Promote Binge
Asks for a Study on Underage Drinking
sponsors of legislation to create a National Media Campaign to Prevent Underage
Drinking (HR 1509/S 866) secured report language and $500,000 in the FY2002
Labor HHS appropriations bill for a study by the National Academy of Sciences
aimed at developing a cost-effective national strategy to prevent underage
The origins of the study date back several years to repeated
Congressional attempts to establish a media campaign to address underage alcohol
use. The NAS has formed a committee of alcohol-prevention, communications,
and public-health experts to conduct the study, and has scheduled a series of
meetings this fall to solicit public and expert input.
The report is due
to be completed in June 2003. CSPI and other public health and safety
groups expect the study to provide new momentum for stronger federal action on
underage drinking, including a strategic plan and recommendation for a national
Further information is available on the
NAS website [www4.nas.edu/webcr.nsf/ProjectScopeDisplay/BCYF-I-02-01-A] or contact Kim Miller,
Manager of Federal Relations [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Asleep at the Wheel on Liquor-Branded "Alcopops"
In September 2002, a coalition of 38
health, consumer, and family groups urged the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and
Firearms (ATF) to expand the scope of its current
investigation of liquor-branded "alcopops" to consider public health and safety
issues and underage drinking.
In early November, CSPI released new polling data
showing that adults and teens alike are confused by deceptive use of malt
beverages to market hard-liquor brands.
On November 5, 2002, CSPI sent a letter to ATF director Bradley
Buckles, calling on ATF to design rules that recognize the unique hybrid
nature of "alcopops."
CSPI wants ATF to
clear indications on
product labels that disclose the source of the alcohol, whether fermented malt
or distilled spirits from flavoring agents, and the alcohol content;
coloring, and style of product labeling and packaging to make the products less
appealing to underage consumers; and
"alcopop" products to be regulated – for tax and distribution purposes – as if
they were distilled spirits.
In this letter, CSPI wrote, "Once again, we urge ATF
to promulgate regulations to remedy adult consumers' confusion over
liquor-branded alcopops, and to stop marketing tactics whose raison d'etre
is to build hard-liquor brand loyalty among underage drinkers."
See the November 5, 2002 Press Release [www.cspinet.org/new/200211051.html].
U.S. Representatives Call for Hearing on Alcohol Ads and Children
Due to growing public concern about alcohol advertising,
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) circulated a letter to their
colleagues in the House. The letter called for the Energy and Commerce Committee to
schedule hearings examining the impact of television alcohol advertising on
underage youth and the adequacy of voluntary advertising standards in minimizing
youth exposure to such promotions.
Thanks, in part, to grassroots advocacy
efforts urging U.S. Representatives to support this initiative, a letter signed by 21 bi-partisan House members went to Billy
Tauzin (R-LA), Chairman of the Committee. We will keep you posted on
developments related to a Congressional hearing as we work to move this issue
forward in the 108th Congress.
See the July 26, 2002 Action Alert [www.cspinet.org/booze/liquor_alertupdate.htm]
Alcohol Policy Outlook
for the 108th Congress
The Coalition for the
Prevention of Alcohol Problems (CPAP, a group of national prevention, public
health, and child-advocacy organizations that support federal alcohol policy
reforms) will reconvene in December to discuss the outlook for alcohol policy
reforms in the 108th Congress. Among other initiatives, the group
will develop strategies for the re-introduction of the National
Media Campaign to Prevent Underage Drinking, the defeat of industry efforts to
reduce alcohol tax rates, and alcohol advertising reforms. For further information, please contact
Kim Miller, Manager of Federal Relations [email@example.com].
Alcohol Policies Project Advocacy News
Hundreds Protest ONDCP's Beer Links
Talking about the NASCAR
partnership, Mr. Walters explained that the National Youth Anti-Drug Media
Campaign “encourages youth to seek out the positive things in their lives
that stand between them and drugs.”
ONDCP Director John Walters
Mr. Jimmy Spencer
In late August, CSPI launched a campaign
to urge "Drug Czar" John Walters to end the partnership between the Office of
National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and Anheuser-Busch beer-sponsored NASCAR racer
Jimmy Spencer. Mr. Spencer assists ONDCP in communicating its "anti-drug"
messages to America's youth. Many believe this relationship sends a
confusing message to children – "Don't Do Drugs, But Beer is OK!" – and
legitimizes alcohol producers as sponsors of sporting events popular among
Response from ONDCP:
CSPI received a response to our August 5, 2002
letter to Mr. Walters. ONDCP wrote: "Based upon expert advice, our
Campaign has adopted a strategy of taking our substance abuse prevention
messages to those very venues [TV, magazines, concerts and sporting events] to
help counter mixed messages to youth, so that they understand that use of
illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco are risky and can have serious consequences."
According to the letter, which cites Mr. Spencer's agent, the race-car driver
"does not have a contractual relationship with the alcohol industry."
That's strange. Mr. Spencer's website features a celebratory pose flanked by cases of Busch beer. His car
and racing outfits are adorned with both the Bud and Busch brands. His website says he races for the Busch Beer Team (and Winston Cup as well). The
site sells beer can "cozies" and shot glasses.
Hmmm! Is that what ONDCP thinks will
"counter mixed messages to youth?" What a mockery of ONDCP's goal to help kids
Since we raised this issue with ONDCP,
hundreds of advocates from around the country have bombarded Mr. Walters with
letters, e-mails, and faxes urging Mr. Walters to end the relationship with Mr.
Spencer and NASCAR. To date, he has not done so. If you have not sent a letter, send one now:
NFL To Promote Hard Liquor
In its latest effort to expand
advertising for hard liquor and compete with brewers, Diageo, the world's
largest producer of alcoholic beverages (whose brands include Captain Morgan's
rum, Smirnoff vodka, and Smirnoff Ice), on September 6,
2002 announced an unprecedented multi-million dollar, multi-year contract with
the Washington Redskins to advertise its hard-liquor brands in FedEx Stadium and
its "alcopop" products during Redskin game telecasts. The company also entered
into similar, though more modest, deals with the New England Patriots and the
Miami Dolphins. Diageo's new strategy mixes hard liquor promotion and
professional football for the first time and further undermines the TV networks'
voluntary ban on broadcast advertising for hard-liquor.
CSPI has urged the teams to reverse
their decisions to sell advertising space to Diageo [www.cspinet.org/booze/redskins_letter.htm]. CSPI has asked the NFL
(which has policies against hard-liquor promotion) and its other teams to refuse
advertising and sponsorship for hard-liquor products, including liquor-branded "alcopops"
Several members of
Congress, led by Rep. Tom Osbourne (R-NE), wrote the NFL, calling on the league
to maintain its policy of refusing liquor sponsorship of NFL teams.
For more information, contact Bill England,
Manager of Grassroots Advocacy [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Send a letter to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to express your disapproval of stadium ads for
liquor or liquor-branded "alcopops" and beer ads during NFL telecasts.
Urge the league to maintain a voluntary ban on liquor advertising.
Abercrombie & Fitch Fashions Promote
Teen clothing marketer,
Abercrombie & Fitch, has once again started alcoholizing its products, its
catalog, and its website advertising. Some of the company's t-shirts, sweat shirts,
and jeans feature messages that blatantly encourage or trivialize heavy – and
potentially dangerous – drinking. The products, such as the shirts below,
target high school and college-age youth. We found them and others on the A&F website and in the company's fall "Back to School" catalog.
This is not the first time the clothier
has stumbled into promoting drinking to its teenage and college consumers. In
1998, A&F featured a promotion called "Drinking 101," which included recipes for
hard-liquor concoctions such as "Brain Hemorrhage" and "Foreplay." After public
outcry from MADD, CSPI and other organizations, A&F agreed to refrain from
future promotions that promote binge drinking. A&F stated its intention then
that future issues of the catalog would "discuss the responsibilities and
hazards involved in alcohol use." Obviously, another corporate commitment
CSPI wrote A&F's CEO Mike Jeffries on October 4th
, asking the company to retract its promotion, recall the remaining copies
of the catalog, remove all clothing that includes references to drinking from
its website, and stop trivializing the severity of alcohol problems on college
campuses. We received a form letter in reply. Maybe our letters to A&F's major
institutional stockholders (with copies to members of the board of directors)
will wake the company up. Seriously, Abercrombie, leave the booze promotions to
brewers and distillers; they don't need lessons in how to attract teenage attention!
For more information, contact
Bill England, Manager of Grassroots Advocacy [email@example.com].
Send a message to the President of the
Mr. Mike Jeffries, Chairman and CEO
Abercrombie and Fitch
6301 Fitch Path
New Albany, OH 43054
And take your business elsewhere!
Follow the Money
Since 1990, the alcohol industry has contributed $53.4 million to federal
candidates, including more than $13 million during the 2000 Presidential
Campaign and over $7.5 million during the 2002 Congressional campaigns.
Top five contributors in
4. Wine &
Spirits Wholesalers of America
Spirits Council of the United States
Center for Responsive Politics [www.opensecrets.org] (as of September 9, 2002)
Top ten recipients in 2002
James M. Talent
Max Baucus (D-MT)
A. Carnahan (D-MO)
Richard A Gephardt
Mike Thompson (D-CA)
M Reynolds (R-NY)
Center for Responsive Politics [www.opensecrets.org] (as of September 9, 2002)
Paying the Piper [www.cspinet.org/booze/ppstudy.html]
Under the Influence [www.cspinet.org/booze/underagedrinking.ondcp5.htm]
The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) PAC played an active role in the 2002
campaigns. As of the end of September, the NBWA PAC has raised nearly $2.2
million. That's more money than it raised during the last Presidential campaign
when, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the PAC contributed over $1.8 million to Federal candidates. NBWA endorsed 256 candidates in 14 states - 243 Republicans, 13 Democrats.
David Rehr, President of NBWA, told
the Washington Post: "We're more energized than ever before." Hinting at the NBWA strategy of fundraising and mobilization of its members, Rehr said, "The
money is still important, but beyond the money we want to get to every eligible
pro-beer vote and make sure they turn out."
The NBWA PAC distributed a flier to
its members urging employees to "be sure to vote pro-beer" on election day, and
warned that "you can be sure the anti-beer voters will be at the polls."
Member businesses advised workers on candidates, distributed voter guides,
and provided transportation to the polls.
Here's what Industry Spokespeople are Saying about:
"Our greatest achievement is increasing our political muscle. Our
greatest challenge is insuring that our neo-prohibitionist adversaries don't
gain legitimacy on any front" (David Rehr, President of the
National Beer Wholesalers Association, from Market Watch, September 2002). When asked about the biggest challenge
facing the beer industry in the next decade, Mr. Rehr responded: "It is that
popular culture does not turn against beer."
"With younger drinkers, their palates haven't quite matured yet to drinks like
bourbon. Malternatives are a sweeter drink, they're easier to drink and it
takes less time to mature to the taste." (Trish Rohrer, brand-development
manager for Boston Beer Company, in "Malternative Universe," Restaurants USA, May
"The beauty of this category is that it brings in new drinkers, people who
really don't like the taste of beer." (Marlene Coulis, Anheuser-Busch's director
of new products, in Advertising Age, April 22, 2002).
Ad of the
Liquor or Beer?
On November 5, 2002, CSPI released the results of its latest
showing that large pluralities
of adults believe "alcopops" are more like liquor than wine or beer. The
survey of 500 adults, conducted by Global Strategy Group, and a similar
survey of teens conducted in July, show widespread confusion about what's in
the drinks, and show that kids are more likely than adults to have seen ads
for them. According to the poll:
Adults are five times more likely
to believe that Bacardi Silver is more like liquor (49%) than beer (9%)
and 38% are unsure. Last July, CSPI research found that teens were
twice as likely to think Bacardi Silver was more like
liquor (42%) than beer (19%).
Adults are three times more likely
to believe that Smirnoff Ice is more like liquor (47%) than beer (14%) and
29% are unsure. 36% of teens think Smirnoff Ice is more like
liquor, compared to 32% who think it is more like beer.
In July, CSPI also reported that
teens are heavily exposed to television advertising for "alcopops" and beer.
The survey [www.cspinet.org/booze/liquor_branded_summary.htm] found
An estimated 22 million teens
watch television after 9:00 p.m. on school nights during the week. Nearly 17
million of those youths who watch TV after 9:00 p.m. lack adult supervision
at least some of the time.
Teens believe that advertisers are
reaching out to them; teens recognize they are targeted by television ads
that air after 9:00 p.m.
More than six in ten teens ages 12 to
18 (62%) can name specific companies or brands that advertises products
that appear in commercials on shows on school nights after 9:00 p.m.
Teens remember brands by name. Many teens (up to 42%) who are exposed to
television advertising for liquor-branded "alcopops" mistakenly assume
they are seeing advertising for liquor products.
An earlier poll, released on May 9, 2001 [www.cspinet.org/booze/alcopops_summary.htm]
Teens and adults believe that
liquor and beer companies target young people with their advertising and
that this contributes to underage drinking. These sentiments are stronger
among teens than adults.
Teenagers and adults also
recognize that "alcopops" are much more popular among underage drinkers
than among adults.
Teens are three times as likely to
be aware of "alcopops" and nearly twice as likely to have tried them.
Eight in ten (81%) teens and 57%
of adults agree that beer and liquor companies target underage drinkers or
teenagers with their ads.
Nearly eight in ten (78%) teens and
two-thirds of adults (65%) say that alcohol advertising contributes to
Over two-thirds of teens (68%)
and 72% of adults say that "alcopops" are much more popular among teens
than people ages 21 and over. There is a strong consensus among teens and
adults that companies make "alcopops" taste sweeter than beer and liquor
because this is appealing to young people and others not accustomed to the
taste of alcohol.
Based on the findings, CSPI has asked
the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF)
– the agency that regulates alcoholic-beverage labeling and marketing – to
implement regulation of this growing class of booze.
producers want it both ways: to pass their products off to consumers as
high-price liquor drinks and be subject to the more lenient tax and
distribution rules that apply to malt beverages. In addition, the companies
want to avoid the TV networks' ban on hard-liquor advertising.
Ironically, many of the products may in fact derive much, if not all, of
their alcohol from spirits sources. So far, ATF has done little to
reduce the confusion and nothing to address the way these new products
introduce underage persons to drinking and to the parent liquor brands.
CSPI has asked ATF to include those considerations in its deliberations.
Mark Your Calendars for Alcohol Policy XIII !
Alcohol Policy XIII
Preventing Alcohol Problems Among
Youth: Policy Approaches
Environment and Accountability: Who
Thursday - Sunday, March 13 - 16,
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
The Alcohol Policy Conference series provides a unique forum for researchers,
community advocates, and public officials to convene and exchange findings,
explore evidence-based solutions, and consider adoption of laws aimed at
minimizing risks associated with alcohol use. This year's gathering focuses on
problems of illegal and high-risk alcohol consumption among 13 - 25 year olds.
Further information available at the conference website [www2.edc.org/alcoholpolicy13/].
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Alcohol Policies Project
1220 L St. NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20009
Phone: (202) 332-9110
Fax: (202) 265-4954