Where Does the Madness End? the Beverage Industry Would like to Know

Article excerpt

Let's just do it. Let's put an end to all advertising for products that may affect our health or expose us to mature subjects.

Let's banish ads for hamburgers and pizza. Health extremists warn us that we, and our children, can't help but rush to the local fast-food joint to gorge on fat-, salt- and cholesterol-laden goodies once we see an advertisement on television.

If sugared cereals were not advertised on television, would people stop eating them? No. Commercials are simply an attempt to influence brand choice, not to cause people to eat cereal.

And what about TV ads for bras, sleeping pills or remedies for the myriad ailments of the human anatomy? Once we get going, we should be able to snuff out broadcast advertisements for virtually every product on the market because, after all, those products have the potential to adversely affect our health or to expose our children to a woman's chest or other intimate subjects.

Ridiculous? Of course. Probable? Not likely. But these are the same arguments that proponents of banning distilled-spirits advertising in the electronic media are crowing about. They contend that exposing children to ads for distilled-spirits brands will compel them to drink, drink and drive, drink and have unprotected sex and then move on to drug use.

They argue that because alcoholic beverages are subject to misuse and underage consumption, the right of commercial free speech granted under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should be surrendered. "Let's make an exception for liquor," they say. …