The full Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives has postponed voting on including underage drinking prevention messages in the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign until after June 8th. A short list of moderate Republican members of the committee will probably determine the outcome of the vote -- so it is critically important to call them and to fax them letters urging them to vote against any efforts to strike or alter the Wolf/Roybal-Allard amendment which allows the inclusion of underage drinking prevention messages in the national anti-drug media campaign.
DETAILS ON THE AMENDMENT
The full Appropriations Committee will be meeting on June 8 or shortly thereafter to "markup" the bill containing "Treasury, Postal and General Government Appropriations" for Fiscal Year 2000. That bill now contains language that we won in subcommittee on May 14th to require the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to add messages focused on preventing underage drinking to the current National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign.
The National Beer Wholesalers Association, the Partnership for a Drug Free America, and ONDCP are opposing this. Representative Anne Northup of Kentucky will be offering an amendment when the full committee meets to remove (strike) the Wolf/Roybal-Allard language.
Our Objective: We want members to oppose the Northup Amendment and to support the existing Wolf/Roybal-Allard language.
ARGUMENTS ON OUR SIDE
The beer wholesalers and ONDCP have confused members of Congress by claiming that adding underage drinking messages would require creating an entirely new advertising effort, at an additional cost of $100 million. The argument is based on the assumption that underage drinking is a separate problem from underage drug use. In fact, children use alcohol in the same way that they use other drugs -- as a forbidden and attractive way to "get high."
BEER WHOLESALER AND ONDCP ARGUMENTS AGAINST US
The beer wholesalers say in their letters to members of Congress:
[Adding underage drinking prevention messages] "would make the Drug Czar's position untenable and reduce his ability to wage the war on drugs -- crack, heroin, synthetic substances, and methamphetamine -- all of which destroy the lives of thousands of America's youth." David Rehr of the National Beer Wholesalers Association also claims that the alcohol industry is best suited to formulate and distribute an anti-underage drinking message. Rehr's organization is apparently telling local beer wholesalers that this proposal would require an advertising campaign against all drinking, not just against underage drinking.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is saying:
An anti-underage drinking message is largely a separate and distinct message from the anti-drug message, requiring a significantly different strategic approach based on scientific and behavioral knowledge....the ideal incremental budget would be approximately $100 million.
Both of these messages are designed to confuse, mislead and panic members of congress.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE:
Below is a short list of key members of the House Appropriations Committee. They need to receive faxed or mailed letters and telephone calls with the simple message:
When the Appropriations Committee meets in June to consider the "Treasury, Postal" bill, we urge you to vote against Congresswoman Anne Northup's amendment to prevent the Office of National Drug Control Policy from incorporating underage drinking messages in the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Most children view alcohol as they do other drugs -- as a way to get high. When young children start drinking, they turn to other drugs more than 60% of the time. Children who drink are 22 times more likely to smoke pot than children who don't drink, and they are 50 times more likely to smoke crack. One of the most important things that can be done to prevent their drug use is to stop it at the beginning: discourage them from drinking at a young age.
From May 28 through June 6, Congress will be in recess which means that many of these members of Congress will be in their Districts attending public events and making speeches to constituent groups. This is an ideal opportunity to see them and voice your concerns in person.
LIST OF "Key" Members of the Appropriations Committee, with their fax and telephone numbers:
For more information contact: George Hacker (202) 332-9110 ext. 343