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CSPI NEWS RELEASE

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE

TUESDAY, June 15, 1999


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George Hacker
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Report Highlights Alcohol-Industry Contributions to House Appropriations Committee Members

Media Campaign to Prevent Underage Drinking
At Risk as Part of Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON - Members of the House Appropriations Committee received $294,690 in campaign contributions from the alcoholic-beverage industry in 1997 and 1998, according to a report released today by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The House Appropriations Committee will soon vote on a provision to add messages on underage drinking to a federally funded youth anti-drug media campaign that will spend over $1 billion in five years.

In "Under the Influence: Alcoholic-Beverage Industry Political Contributions to Members of the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives," CSPI reports that Representative Anne Northup, a Republican from Louisville, Kentucky, received $38,264 from alcohol-beverage industry sources. Northup is expected to move to strike the provision concerning youth drinking when the Appropriations bill comes before the full Committee. During the period covered by the CSPI report, Northup received nearly twice as much money from alcohol sources as any other member of the Appropriations Committee. The National Beer Wholesalers Association, which has been leading the opposition to including an alcohol-prevention message in the youth anti-drug media effort run by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), contributed $10,000 to Northup's campaign in 1997 and 1998.

George Hacker, director of the Alcohol Policies Project at CSPI said, "We hope our report helps citizens understand how the booze industry tries to influence legislators. That's why some legislators seem more interested in defending the booze merchants than they are in preventing youths from using -- and abusing -- alcohol, the number-one drug in America."

The CSPI report, based on Federal Election Commission filings and data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, shows that more than half the alcoholic-beverage contributions to the 61-member Appropriations Committee went to eight members: Anne Northup (KY), Allen Boyd (FL), Michael Forbes (NY), Tom DeLay (TX), Kay Granger (TX), Jim Kolbe (AZ), Henry Bonilla (TX), George Nethercutt (WA).

The largest single alcoholic-beverage industry PAC contributor to the Appropriations Committee was the National Beer Wholesalers Association, which gave $99,500 during the two-year election cycle. Other major contributors included Philip Morris (Miller Brewing) which gave $83,000; the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers, $14,000; the Brown-Forman Corporation, $12,000; and the Wine Institute, $11,000.

The alcohol-prevention provision in the Appropriations bill, passed by the subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government, was proposed by Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA). It would allow the director of the ONDCP to begin the process of incorporating messages about underage drinking in the current youth anti-drug media campaign.

Alcohol is the drug of choice among young people in the United States and the one that causes the most devastation. It is an illegal drug for persons under the age of 21. It kills more than six times as many young people as all illicit drugs combined. Its use among young people dramatically increases the chances that they will try other drugs and become addicted to alcohol or other drugs as adults.

More than 80 groups support adding alcohol-prevention messages to the current anti-drug media campaign, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, National Crime Prevention Council, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, and the National Drug Prevention League.

Opponents of the measure include the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the Wine Institute, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (a consortium of advertising agencies that helps coordinate the current anti-drug media campaign), the ONDCP, and the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

REPORTERS/EDITORS NOTE: To view the CSPI Report "Under the Influence" in its entirety, please go to www.cspinet.org/booze/underagedrinking.ondcp5.htm after 6:00 pm EST Monday.

CSPI is a nonprofit health-advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. that focuses on nutrition and alcoholic-beverage issues. It is largely supported by the more than one million subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter and by foundation grants. CSPI led efforts to win passage of the law requiring warning labels on alcoholic beverages.