Nation's Distillers Committed to Fighting Underage Drinking

October 28, 2003 07:00 PM
OAKLAND, CA – In response to today’s California hearing on underage drinking, Distilled Spirits Council President Peter H. Cressy underscored the spirits industry’s commitment to social responsibility stating: “The spirits industry does not want underage drinkers as consumers and has worked aggressively year after year, decade after decade – spending millions -- to combat this serious problem.” Cressy, a former college president, said the distilled spirits industry has been a leader in forming partnerships with communities and state and federal agencies to stop illegal drinking by those under the legal purchase age. He cited as examples the programs of The Century Council, the distilled spirits industry’s not-for-profit organization which has spent more than $130 million over the last 12 years on community programs to reduce illegal, underage drinking. The Century Council’s award-winning community programs are being used by police departments in more than 42 states, more than 1,200 colleges across the country and all branches of the United States Armed Forces. In California, 125 colleges and universities are using Alcohol 101+, a new CD-ROM program designed to help college students make responsible decisions about alcohol. Alcohol Advertising Does Not Cause Consumption, Major Studies Say Cressy stated that a substantial body of scientific literature, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2000 Report to Congress, concludes that advertising does not cause someone to begin drinking, let alone abuse beverage alcohol. “The research is clear -- parents and other adults are the most influential factors in a youth’s decision whether or not to drink alcohol,” said Cressy, citing the conclusion of the recent National Academy of Sciences underage drinking study. Distillers Adopt Tough New Advertising Standards Cressy stated that the nation’s distillers are committed to responsible advertising and have a long history of successful self-regulation. He noted the industry recently revised its 68-year-old Code of Responsible Practices that governs its advertising activities by setting modern standards for governing the responsible advertising and marketing of over 2,800 brands of member company spirits, beer and wine products. Key Code changes: • 70 percent adult demographic for all ad placements and promotional events • Code covers all member company products: over 2,800 brands of spirits, beer and wine • Transparency: public reports on complaint decisions • Promotional events should discourage activities that reward abusive drinking • Outside advisors added to Code compliance process • Responsibility statements where practicable • Age verification mechanisms for websites • Models/actors should be a minimum of 25 years old • Advertisements should not be associated with “Rite of Passage” • Explicit provisions regarding sexual content of advertising FTC Concludes Spirits Industry Self-Regulation is “Rigorous” and Effective Cressy also pointed out that the Federal Trade Commission’s September 2003 alcohol advertising report to Congress concluded the distilled spirits industry’s self-regulatory measures are “rigorous” and effective. Importantly, the FTC said its investigation found no evidence of targeting underage consumers, that teen drinking has “declined significantly,” and many youth gain access to alcohol primarily through non-commercial sources such as friends, parents, and other adults. The report was the FTC’s fourth major review of alcohol advertising in four years and the fourth to conclude that alcohol ads are directed to adults. Taxes Will Devastate CA Hospitality Industry -- Without Deterring Youth Drinking Cressy concluded by saying the industry will continue to aggressively fight underage drinking but will not support an increase in taxes as a measure to reduce this illegal activity. “Research shows raising taxes would do little to reduce underage drinking,” said Cressy. “Therefore it makes no sense to further penalize responsible adult consumers and California’s struggling hospitality industry by raising taxes on spirits when more than half the purchase price already goes to taxes.” CONTACT: Frank Coleman or Lisa Hawkins Telephone: 202-682-8840 SCROLLER Publication Name: Publication Author:


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