There is a real possibility of getting a House Commerce Committee hearing on broadcast alcohol advertising in the coming weeks. However, we need to mount a major push NOW to elevate the issue on the Committee's packed agenda. We need to recruit as many Members of Congress as possible -- especially those who sit on the Commerce Committee -- to weigh in with Committee Chairman, Rep. Billy Tauzin, urging him to hold a full committee hearing on this issue of major importance for public health and safety and the well-being of children and families.
ACTION NEEDED: Please FAX (mail is still very slow to reach legislators) letters to your Member of Congress -- ESPECIALLY IF THEY SIT ON THE COMMERCE COMMITTEE (see list below) -- stating why the airing of hard liquor ads on network TV merits a Congressional hearing. Urge your representative to contact Committee Chairman, Rep. Billy Tauzin, asking him to hold a hearing on the impact of television alcohol advertising on youth and families.
TALKING POINTS (WHY HEARINGS ARE NEEDED):
CONGRESS' OVERSIGHT RESPONSIBILITY: NBC's decision to begin airing hard liquor ads signals a major shift in voluntary advertising standards, opening the door to expanded alcohol advertising in the nation's most powerful mass media. Congress has a responsibility to carefully examine the potential public health and safety consequences and require adequate safeguards to protect children and other vulnerable consumers.
IMPACT ON CHILDREN AND FAMILIES: Despite NBC’s claims of responsible advertising standards for liquor products, millions of underage persons will be exposed to hard liquor advertising, as they have been exposed for decades to appealing, funny, and seductive spots for beer. Research shows that liquor ads teach young people that drinking is romantic; kids learn about brands and about how to use alcohol. Our country already has a serious underage drinking problem, and the expansion of alcohol advertising on TV will only make it worse.
PUBLIC OPINION: A December, 2001 poll conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates found that 70 percent of Americans agreed that it is dangerous to have liquor ads on TV because they will introduce young people under the legal drinking age to liquor.
HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE
You can obtain your Member's fax number by calling his or her office (LOOK UP YOUR MEMBER BY ZIP CODE: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials/). A few days after faxing your letter, please follow up with a phone call. Ask to speak with the Member's Commerce Committee staffer to follow up on your letter.
SAMPLE LETTER (please adapt closing to urge your representative to ask Chairman Tauzin for a hearing): http://www.cspinet.org/booze/liquorads/liquor_lettertocongress.htm.
ALSO: Coalition members based in DC are making the rounds among Commerce Committee members. If you want to participate in these meetings and/or would be willing to set up a coalition meeting with any of the Commerce Committee Members' offices, please contact Kim Miller at CSPI so we can coordinate visits.