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CSPI NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- July 12, 1999


For More Information Contact:

Colleen Dermody 202-332-9110, ext. 370

Fritz Wiecking
202-332-9110, ext. 411

Overwhelming Majority of Americans Say Alcohol Should Be Part of a Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign

House Appropriations Committee to Vote This Tuesday on Allowing Federal Anti-Drug Media Campaign to Include Alcohol

WASHINGTON - A nationwide telephone survey, conducted for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), found that over 90% of Americans believe it is important to provide anti-alcohol messages to teens. In addition, when asked to choose between alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and paint, glue, and other inhalants, Americans believe that alcohol is by far the biggest drug problem teens face.

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee will consider an amendment introduced by Congresswoman Anne Northup (R-KY) that would reverse a subcommittee vote and prevent the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) from adding alcohol-prevention messages to that office's $1 billion anti-drug media campaign.

"Our poll shows that the American public is way ahead of the current ONDCP media campaign and Congress when it comes to understanding the real drug problem for American teens," said Fritz Wiecking, of CSPI's Alcohol Policies Project. "On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee has the opportunity to correct a glaring omission in the government's anti-drug media campaign by voting to add alcohol to the message. But Committee members will have to choose between the National Beer Wholesalers Association and America's young people. We hope they have the courage to vote for teens by retaining the language its subcommittee passed in May. The most important step in combating teen drug abuse is to stop underage drinking."

The provision passed in May by the subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government was proposed by Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA). It would clarify that ONDCP can include underage-drinking messages in its youth-oriented media campaign.

CSPI's survey was conducted last week by TNS Intersearch. The survey included 1,008 randomly selected American adults and had a +/- margin of error of 3.1%.

The survey questions/responses follow:

(1) Which of the following do you think poses the greatest and most immediate threat to the health and safety of teenagers in your community?

Alcohol 48.9%
Cocaine 15.5%
Marijuana 14.2%
Heroin 6.8%
Paint, Glue, and inhalants 4.4%

(2) How important is it to include messages to discourage underage persons from drinking alcoholic beverages in a national anti-drug campaign on television, radio, and newspapers?

Very important 77.9%
Somewhat important 12.9%
Not too important 3.8%
Not at all important 4.2%
Don't know 1.1%

(3) Do you think beer advertising strongly influences, somewhat influences, does not have much influence, or has no influence at all on young people's decisions to drink alcohol?

Strongly influences 36.6%
Somewhat influences 37.1%
Doesn't have much influence 13.5%
No influence at all 10.2%Don't know 2.5%


CSPI is a nonprofit health-advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. that focuses on food-safety and alcoholic-beverage issues. It is largely supported by the more than one million subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter. CSPI led efforts to win passage of the law requiring warning labels on alcoholic beverages.