Sample Letter Asking Members of Congress to
Sign the Dear Colleague on Alcohol Advertising

The Honorable [Name]
DISTRICT ADDRESS (or fax to Washington Office)

Dear Representative:

I am writing to urge you to sign on to a bi-partisan "Dear Colleague" letter being circulated by Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) asking that the House Energy and Commerce Committee schedule a Congressional hearing to examine the impact of television alcohol advertising on underage youth.

Despite NBC’s welcome decision not to begin airing hard liquor ads, a massive influx of ads for a new crop of liquor-branded "alcopops" – sweetened youth-oriented malt-beverages such as Smirnoff Ice, Bacardi Silver, and Skyy Blue – are sneaking liquor brands before massive audiences of underage youth on network television. A recent study found that kids think those commercials are ads for hard-liquor products. Producers plan to spend some $450 million on such commercials in the coming year – more than a 30% increase in the total amount spent on alcohol ads on television.

NBC’s action on hard liquor ads highlighted the need for tougher standards on all televised alcohol advertising to reduce youth exposure to commercials that glamorize and promote drinking in the powerful broadcast media. The present weak voluntary advertising standards for beer ads – which apparently also apply to the new liquor-branded "alcopops" – allow HALF the audience to be underage!

Underage drinking and its harms are widespread. On average, young people begin drinking at 13.1 years of age. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, those who begin by age 15 are four times as likely to become alcohol dependent than those who wait until age 21. Alcohol is a factor in the four leading causes of death among persons ages 10 to 24: motor-vehicle crashes, unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide. Underage drinking costs Americans some $53 billion annually.

Congress should be taking a serious look at this issue and exploring possible remedies to better protect underage youth and other vulnerable populations from a steady onslaught of televised inducements to drink. I hope you will join your colleagues in urging the Energy and Commerce Committee to examine the adequacy of the alcoholic-beverage industry’s voluntary advertising standards in ensuring that alcoholic beverage ads are clearly and unambiguously directed to adult consumers of legal drinking age. The deadline to sign on to the letter is August 31, 2002.

Please contact Ellen Riddleberger in Congresswoman Roybal-Allard’s office (225-1766) for further information or to sign on to the letter. Thank you in advance for your consideration. Please let me know if you will be able to join in this important effort. With best regards.



[Action Alert on Advertising] [Dear Colleague Letter] [July 16, 2002 Press Conference on Advertising]

July 26, 2002