February 28, 1997

 

Representative____________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-

To send an e-mail to the House of Representatives

Dear Representative __________:

We are writing to encourage you to stand up for America's children and "Just Say No" to advertising for hard liquor in the broadcast media. Specifically, we encourage you to co-sponsor and support legislation by that name that will soon be introduced in the House by Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II and others. The measure, which Rep. Kennedy first introduced in the 104th Congress, would formalize five decades of liquor industry policy and practice. Even today, the vast majority of distillers and broadcasters still abide by those standards of good practice that have served the industry and the public so well for so long: they refuse to run ads on radio and television.

Barely three years ago, the president of the liquor trade association, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, told the Senate Commerce Committee that the voluntary ban was a key part of the industry's efforts to "combat alcohol abuse." Our groups have often praised the industry for the restraint that has distinguished their advertising from that of brewers, who frequently reach, target, and entertain youthful audiences on radio and television. Now is no time for the industry to turn its back on alcohol abuse.

Our children already receive too many commercial messages in the broadcast media that teach them how and encourage them to drink. It is time to draw the line, and the "Just Say No" Act will do just that.

Allowing liquor ads on the air can only lead to greater alcohol consumption and higher levels of alcohol problems. After years of decline, alcohol-related traffic crash deaths have begun to increase again. According to the most recent "Monitoring the Future Study" released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, binge drinking among underage high school students remains at unacceptably high levels, and drunkenness among 8th graders has increased. In the past decade, reports of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which severely impairs the normal development of thousands of children, have increased almost five-fold.

On January 6, the Wall Street Journal and Advertising Age Magazine reported significant targeting of underage audiences by brewers on MTV. In some cases, underage people exposed to those beer ads comprised more than 60% of the audience. Those ad placements clearly violated even the weak voluntary advertising guidelines of the beer industry. We question whether the liquor industry will do any better.

Early reports on the placement of broadcast liquor ads reveal that distillers will be no more responsible in avoiding inappropriate youth audiences. Already, despite intense public scrutiny, Seagram's commercials have appeared during weekend college and professional football telecasts, Monday Night Football, and during a 7:00 P.M. showing of the Cosby Show. The company's radio ads ran on youth-oriented, rock-and-roll format radio stations. Taking the distillers' "equivalency" argument to its logical conclusion, we can soon expect to see liquor advertising wherever we now see ads for beer. We can also expect that liquor ads will make the same kinds of youth appeals that appear in beer ads as competition for young drinkers -- and non-drinkers -- intensifies.

Distillers demand equity when it comes to competing with beer and wine for alcohol consumers. We strongly believe that such equity should not be won at the expense of our children and public health and safety. Rather than permit distillers the same unfettered access to our children that brewers now enjoy, Congress should examine ways to reduce all alcohol advertising that reaches substantial numbers of underage persons. The "Just Say No" Act provides a reasonable starting point for that important undertaking.

Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please call George Hacker at Center for Science in the Public Interest at (202) 332-9110, ext. 343.

Sincerely,

 

George Hacker
Director
Alcohol Policies Project


'Cause Children Count Coalition, Inc., Washington, DC
Alabama Citizens Action Program, Birmingham, AL
Alaska Council on Prevention, Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Anchorage, AK
Alcohol Research Information Services, Bottom Line on Alcohol and Society, Lansing, MI
Alcohol Services, Inc., Syracuse, NY
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Association of Ohio, Wooster, OH
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Washington, DC
American Academy of Family Physicians, Washington, DC
American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders, Cambridge, MA
American College of Nurse-Midwives, Washington, DC
American College of Physicians, Washington, DC
American Council on Alcohol Problems, Bridgeton, MO
American Society of Addiction Medicine, Chevy Chase, MD
Center for Media Education, Washington, DC
Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington, DC
Center on Alcohol Advertising, Berkeley, CA
Central NE Council on Alcoholism, Grand Island, NE
Chugiak High Nurse and Counselors, Eagle River, AK
Committee for Children, Washington, DC
Communities Organized For Health Options, Craig, AK
Cultural Environment Movement, Philadelphia, PA
Gastineau Human Services Corporation, Juneau, AK
General Board of Church and Society, The United Methodist Church, Washington, DC
General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church, Washington, DC
Institute for Health Advocacy, San Diego, CA
Lake County Citizens Committee for Alcohol Health Warnings, Tavares, FL
Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco, Washington, DC
Los Angeles County Commission on Alcoholism, Palmdale, CA
Make Children #1, Corpus Christi, TX
Manocherian Foundation, New York, NY
Marin Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems, San Rafael, CA
Mothers Offended by the Media
NASADAD, Washington, DC
National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, Arlington, VA
National Association for Public Health Policy, Reston, VA
National Association of African-Americans for Positive Imagery, Philadelphia, PA
National Families in Action, Atlanta, GA
National Family Partnership, St. Louis, MO
National Institute on Media and the Family, Minneapolis, MN
National Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Parenting, and Prevention, Washington, DC
National Prevention Network, Washington, DC
Northern Lights Recovery Center, Nome, AK
Oceanside Alcohol Trauma Prevention Project, Oceanside, CA
PRIDE of St. Tammany, Covington, LA
Pennsylvania Council on Alcohol Problems, Harrisburg, PA
Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington, DC
RID-USA (Remove Intoxicated Drivers), Schenectady, NY
Scott Newman Center, Los Angeles, CA
Society for Public Health Education, Washington, DC
Southern Early Childhood Association, Little Rock, AR
Southern Hills Alcohol and Drug Center, Hot Springs, SD
Tanana Tribal Council, Tanana, AK
Temperance League of Kentucky, Louisville, KY
The Arc, Washington, DC
The Praxis Project, Oakland, CA
Dr. Alexander Wagenaar, University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, Minneapolis, MN
YMCA Communities in Prevention - North, Placentia ATOD Coalition, Fullerton, CA
Zuni Alcoholism Program, Zuni, NM

Press Release on "Just Say No" Bill