Stop New Liquor Ads before They Start American Colleges and Universities Already Have Their Hands Full with a Prevalent Binge-Drinking Culture

Article excerpt

Twenty or 30 years ago, novels and movies depicted journalists as a hard-drinking bunch.

As a nondrinker myself, I wasn't caused any career problems by my colleagues who drank, but I noted that overindulgence in liquor caused a fair amount of misery, family breakups, professional disaster, and, in a few cases, self-destruction.

Today, journalism is a much more sober profession. Journalists are more likely to drink less alcohol, and often none at all. In part that is a reflection of trends in society in general. While there is still a great deal of experimentation with alcohol at the high school and college level, many more-mature citizens have become better educated about its effect on their health, safety, and general well-being. Why, then, is the liquor industry trying to turn the clock back? For some months, marketers of distilled spirits have been experimenting with a return of radio and television advertising of their products after a long voluntary ban. In the case of radio advertising, the ban dates back to 1936, and to 1948 in the case of television. Now the marketers of vodka, whiskey, gin, rum, and other hard liquors have gone public with their plan to boost sales through television advertising - in time for the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's holiday season. A responsible decision? Already the distilled-spirits industry spends more than $230 million a year on advertising, most of it for print and outdoor billboards. But the industry covets the audience in its early 20s that is presently being wooed on television by the beer and wine manufacturers with about $700 million a year in advertising. The aim of the new advertising plan is to hook a new generation on a product that clearly has an impact on the rate of drunk driving incidents and other community problems. The distilled-spirits industry responds with the argument that its advertising will be "responsible." A lot of critics don't buy that. Neither does President Clinton. In his weekend radio address he blasted the plan for expanded liquor advertising as "irresponsible." By introducing the ads, the president said, the liquor industry will be "exposing our children to such ads before they know how to handle alcohol or are legally allowed to do so." The major television networks are skittish about accepting the new hard liquor ads. They understand, and fear, the reaction of parents and organized antiliquor groups. …


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