For Immediate Release: August 2, 1996

Contact: Richard Hébert 202/332-9110, ext. 370

New York Times Ad Urges Seagram

To Stop TV Liquor Commercials

In a full-page advertisement in the August 2, Northeast edition of the New York Times, 58 health-advocacy and consumer organizations and individuals are urging the Seagram Company to stop running television commercials for its hard-liquor products.

The open letter to Seagram's chief executive officer, Edgar Bronfman, Jr., states: "Instead of adding to the avalanche of beer advertising that now helps bury a tragic number of children, we ask you, in the name of true fairness, to exert responsible corporate leadership and immediately pull your TV spots off the air."

Faced with declining sales, Seagram broke the liquor industry's 48-year voluntary ban against hard-liquor advertising on TV in early June when it began airing commercials for Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey on KRIS-TV, the NBC affiliate in Corpus Christi, Texas. The company indicated that if successful, it intended to continue expanding its use of TV and cable advertising in other markets. Other liquor companies have said they may do the same.

"You say it's only fair to advertise your whiskey and vodka on TV because beer and wine companies advertise their products," the newspaper ad points out. "But what's best for our kids?"

The open letter was signed by numerous health, anti-drug, and religious groups. Assembled by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the signers include the American Public Health Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Students Against Drunk Driving, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, Consumer Federation of America, Texans' War on Drugs, and Texas PTA.

Individuals who signed the letter include Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-MA), and 10 other members of Congress.

"We hope that Mr. Bronfman will listen to health authorities, legislators, anti-drug activists, concerned citizens, and the President of the United States and reverse his decision to break five decades of trust with the American people," commented George Hacker, CSPI's director of alcohol policies. "Our kids don't need the temptation of televised liquor ads on top of so many beer ads that already zero in on them."

Hacker noted that President Clinton, in his weekly radio address June 15, called on liquor companies to reinstate their voluntary ban, urging them, "Pull those ads."

The New York Times advertisement, headlined "Don't let our kids drown in Seagram's TV ads," notes that alcohol is a factor in all leading causes of death for persons aged 15 to 24 and also leads to more teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and AIDS. It was supported in part by contributions from the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation, the S. H. Cowell Foundation, the Marin Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems, and the National Association for Public Health Policy.

CSPI is a non-profit health-education and advocacy organization widely recognized for its studies of nutrition, food safety, and alcohol. Based in Washington, D.C., it is supported in large part by the 750,000 subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter. It does not accept funding from industry or government.

# # #