WHAT'S NEW -- CSPI PRESS RELEASES


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 23, 1996

Contact: Roger Williams 202/ 332-9110, ext. 370 or

George Hacker, ext. 343


MR. PRESIDENT,

WHY NOT SILENCE THE BUD FROGS, TOO?

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) applauds President Clinton's new restrictions on the promotion of underage smoking but wonders why his Administration has failed to take similar regulatory action against alcoholic-beverage marketers who also prey on underage persons. If Joe Camel can be fenced off from the young, why can't the Bud Frogs be corralled in an adults-only pond? If the FDA can regulate nicotine as an addictive drug, why not alcohol?

Alcohol, notes CSPI, the nation's premier advocacy group on nutrition and health issues, is a factor in all the leading causes of death -- car crashes, homicides, suicides -- for youth aged 15 to 24. According to the 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse released earlier this week, almost the same percentage of 12- to 17-year-olds report drinking during the past month as report smoking. A third of those drinkers report binge drinking (five or more drinks) on at least one occasion during the month.

Each year, alcohol is associated with more than 100,000 deaths and some $100 billion in economic damage to the nation. In addition, it is routinely involved in such domestic disturbances as spousal and child abuse and family break-ups. Some 18 million Americans, including 4.5 million under the age of 18, are addicted to alcohol or have serious problems resulting from its use.

On college campuses, student drinking is the number-one problem, resulting in injury, vandalism, assaults, date rape, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, and academic failure.

Since 1981, CSPI's Alcohol Policies Project has conducted a sustained campaign to reduce the promotion of alcoholic beverages, as well as their availability, among young men and women below the legal drinking age. The Center recently called on the Clinton Administration to support comprehensive legislation introduced last spring by Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-MA) to restrict alcohol advertising on radio and television as well as youth-oriented alcohol sponsorships and promotions.

"In terms of a clear and present danger to America's youth, alcohol wins hands down over tobacco, which kills years later in life," says George Hacker, director of the Alcohol Policies Project. "If the latter is a menace -- and it is -- then so is the former. If it's immoral to market cigarettes to children, as the President says in his new book, it's just as immoral for Anheuser-Busch -- a large contributor to the Democratic and Republican parties -- to use frogs and other cute animals and massive sports promotions to attract kids to its beer products. We must eliminate this double standard."

In a full-page ad in the August 2 New York Times, CSPI urged readers to call Seagram CEO Joseph Bronfman Jr. to protest his company's television liquor ads, which broke a 48-year voluntary industry ban on such ads. President Clinton, in a June 15 radio address agreed, noting that the voluntary ban was "the right thing to do." We call on the President to demand that beer and wine marketers also stop targeting young people -- on television and in countless youth-oriented promotions. We ask parents and concerned citizens to share their views with the President, candidates for legislative office, and alcoholic-beverage marketers.

For more on the Budweiser frogs, click there.

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Since 1981, CSPI's Alcohol Policies Project has promoted public and private policies to reduce the societal toll of alcohol problems. It led the successful effort to require health warnings on containers and campaigned for two rounds of increases in federal taxes on liquor, and one on beer and wine. Its groundbreaking publications, The Booze Merchants and Marketing Booze to Blacks helped launch the national movement to reform the advertising and promotion of alcoholic beverages.

CSPI is a nonprofit, health-advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. Founded in 1971, it is well known for its nutrition studies of restaurant food and for obtaining the "Nutrition Facts" panel on packaged foods. CSPI accepts no industry or government funding. It is supported largely by the 750,000 subscribers to its Nutrition Action Newsletter.