What's New -- CSPI Press Releases

For Release July 25, 1997

For more information:
Contact: George Hacker at:
(202)332-9110, ext. 343

Last Call for High-Risk Bar Promotions That Target College Students

CSPI Action Guide Helps College Communities Fight Practices That Encourage Heavy Drinking

"Ladies drink free." "Nickel pitchers 'til ten o'clock." "Bladder Bust." Those are some of the college newspaper come-ons that lure students to neighborhood bars and provide incentives and encouragement for heavy and abusive drinking. According to a recent survey, such advertising in many college newspapers has increased by more than half over the past decade, stymying college and community efforts to reduce binge drinking.

Now those communities have a how-to guide on fighting back. Last Call for High-Risk Bar Promotions That Target College Students: A Community Action Guide, published by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), gives a practical step-by-step battle plan. (To read the introduction to Last Call.)

"This guide," said George Hacker, director of CSPI's Alcohol Policies Project, "is designed to help college administrators, community activists, law enforcement and local government officials reduce the incidence of late-night noise, vandalism, drunken brawls, assaults, property damage and drinking and driving associated with heavy drinking."

Tom Colthurst, Associate Director of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention said, "CSPI has produced a valuable reference for those concerned with college student health and safety. Prevention coalitions, both campus and community-based, will find this new publication illuminating and change-oriented."

Last Call provides a broad range of strategies to help community leaders confront irresponsible bar promotions and create safer, healthier communities. It encourages advocates to choose the methods that best fit their unique situations. Some of the options described in the guide include inviting bar owners to join a responsible hospitality council, working for legislation that prohibits drink specials, and calling for enhanced enforcement of laws against serving intoxicated and underage patrons.

The guide's blueprint for aggressively engaging the alcohol industry "is provocative, realistic, and likely to produce results," said Robert Chapman, Alcohol and Other Drug Program Coordinator at LaSalle University (Philadelphia, PA).

A CSPI survey of 75 college newspapers, described in Last Call, found that advertising for local bars has increased by more than half over the past decade. The survey found that one-third of the bar ads promote high-risk heavy drinking, with pitches such as:

"When a bar distributes fliers for a Wednesday-night 'Bladder Buster' (where drinks stay cheap until someone goes to the bathroom) under the doors in a first-year residence hall, it's an invitation to get drunk," said Last Call co-author Debra Erenberg of CSPI's Alcohol Policies Project.

"Such widespread emphasis on heavy drinking is a perversion of the college experience, which should be about learning and personal growth. The strategies described in Last Call can help foster a campus environment where students focus on learning, rather than drinking."

Preparation of Last Call was assisted by grants from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of Princeton, NJ, and the S.H. Cowell Foundation of San Francisco, CA. CSPI will provide the guide to hundreds of college campuses and organizations concerned about alcohol problems. Individual copies of the 61-page guide are available from CSPI's Alcohol Policies Project for $10, or by writing to CSPI-Alcohol Policies, 1220 L St., NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005.

CSPI is a nonprofit health-advocacy organization that focuses on alcoholic-beverage problems, nutrition, and food safety. It is based in Washington, D.C., and is supported largely by more than one million subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter and foundation grants. It does not accept industry or government funding. CSPI led efforts to win passage of the law requiring warning labels on alcoholic beverages and has publicized the nutritional content of many popular restaurant foods.

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