Statement of George A. Hacker
Director, Alcohol Policies Project

Broadcast Liquor Advertising
November 5, 1997

The Center for Science in the Public Interest applauds William Kennard, the new Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), for his intention to investigate the effects of broadcast liquor ads on children.

The FCC voted 2-2 last July to kill a Notice of Inquiry proposed by his predecessor. Since then, four new members (including Kennard) have joined the five-seat Commission.

We urge the new FCC to stand up for America's children and for responsible broadcast standards governing all alcohol ads. Adding liquor ads to those for beer and wine already on TV sends the wrong message -- especially to children -- about America's number-one drug. CSPI is ready to support the Chairman and other commissioners in their efforts to protect America's kids.

Alarmingly, fewer adolescents today recognize the risks associated with heavy drinking. According to the latest annual Monitoring the Future study conducted by the University of Michigan for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, only 28.6% of 8th graders said that taking one or two drinks nearly every day entailed 'great risk,' down from 32.4% in 1992. Barely half of those 8th graders (51.8%), down from 58% in 1992, perceived great risk in having five or more drinks once or twice each weekend.

Alcohol is a leading factor in the deaths of 15- to 24-year olds in the United States, in car crashes, homicides, and suicides. Alcohol use is commonly involved in violent crimes, spousal abuse, and rapes on college campuses. It causes more than 100,000 deaths and more than $100 billion in economic damage in the U.S. each year.

Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of beer and wine commercials, and a new trickle of liquor ads, glamorize and glorify drinking. Those ads mask the down sides of alcohol consumption and suggest that drinking is risk-free. The reality of youth drinking suggests otherwise, and FCC action to curb alcohol ads is long overdue.