CONTACT: George Hacker 202/332-9110, x343

Rep. Kennedy Lauded for "Six-Pack" Approach to Alcohol Advertising

Legislative Package Would Protect Children, Educate Consumers

Frogs are croaking, the Jerky Boys are joking, and kids are drinking.

At a press conference today, George A. Hacker, Director of the Alcohol Policies Project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), lauded Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-MA) for his leadership on alcohol advertising issues and his introduction of an historic, comprehensive, "six-pack" of bills to help prevent alcohol problems among young people.

Pointing to efforts by President Clinton and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler to curb tobacco advertising that appeals to children, Hacker stated that "there is no better time than now to challenge alcohol advertising practices that similarly seduce young people to make unhealthy choices."

Hacker noted that many current ads for beer have become youth favorites. He pointed to Budweiser's popular frog series as an example of a campaign that unscrupulously appeals to children, noting that, according to the Center on Alcohol Advertising, youngsters between the ages of 9 and 11 were more likely to recall the frogs' slogan ("Bud" "Weis" "Er") than slogans associated with Tony the Tiger, Smokey Bear, and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. For very young children, the frogs' repeated syllables "function like a very appealing reading lesson to introduce children to the Budweiser name," said Hacker.

Similarly, ads for Bud Light appeal primarily to underage audiences. The ads feature the Jerky Boys, pranksters whose adolescent humor, according to music industry marketing data, is much more popular with active music consumers under the legal drinking age than with those between the ages of 21 and 34.

Like the FDA-proposed rules to protect children from cigarette advertising, Rep. Kennedy's "Children's Protection from Alcohol Advertising Act" would eliminate advertising and marketing practices that have the most impact on young people. His "Sensible Advertising and Family Education Act" (SAFE) would require that the remaining ads bear a rotating series of health and safety messages, reminding readers, viewers, and listeners of some of the major risks related to drinking. In addition, alcohol-beverage labels would be required to reveal useful consumer information, such as ingredients, calories, and alcohol content.

The omnibus legislation embraces the concerns of parents and communities across the nation by calling for a federal study of the effects on young people of the one billion dollars worth of annual alcohol advertising. Proposed bills to eliminate the federal tax deduction for alcohol advertising expenses and federal subsidies for alcohol marketing abroad would spare taxpayers the indignity and expense of underwriting corporate welfare for some of America's richest companies.

CSPI is a nonprofit health-education and advocacy organization supported in large part by the 750,000 subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter. It is widely recognized for studies in the fields of nutrition, food safety, and alcohol.

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