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March 21,  2002

MADD Says NBC'S Decision to Pull Liquor Ads is Band-Aid Approach to Bigger Problem, Stricter Responsibility Standards Needed for All Alcohol Advertising

Organization Calls for Congressional Hearings on Alcohol Ads, Releases New Policy Recommendations and Survey Showing Public Support

(SafetyAlerts) - Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says the NBC Television Network's reversal of its decision to air liquor ads misses the big picture and the need for stricter responsibility standards for all alcohol advertising, including ads for beer, wine, liquor and malt-based beverages. Today at a Washington, D.C. news conference, MADD and U.S. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-CA, called for immediate Congressional hearings to examine this issue and alcohol advertising's effects on youth and underage drinking. MADD also released its new policies on alcohol advertising and urged NBC and other television networks to adopt these guidelines.

Among the top priorities of the new policies announced by MADD:

* Restrictions on all television alcoholic beverage advertising --including ads for beer, wine, liquor, and malt-based beverages -- so as to limit the exposure to underage viewers. For example, alcohol advertising should not:

- Be broadcast during programming with viewership of less than 90 percent adults aged 21 or older
- Use actors, models or other talent/characters under the age of 30; portray or encourage drinking by individuals under the age of 21

* Requirements for a matching amount and comparable placement of air time/ad space for alcohol-related public health and alcohol-related safety messages for young people and adults. A government agency or an independent agency or public health experts not affiliated with the alcohol industry must produce these counter-ads.

Americans back MADD's stance according to an independent public opinion poll where a majority (60.1 percent) of respondents said they would support stricter policies or responsibility standards for all alcohol advertising on television, including ads for liquor, beer and wine. An overwhelming 93.5 percent of respondents said they would support television advertising to promote health and safety messages related to underage drinking and drunk driving.

"MADD is not against alcohol advertising; we simply want standards in place that will protect our children from constant exposure and messages that directly appeal to them," said Wendy Hamilton, MADD national president elect. "NBC and the other television networks are giving the beer and wine industry a free pass when it comes to advertising. All should be held to the same standards, as alcohol is alcohol -- a 12 ounce can of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, a 12 ounce wine cooler, or 1 1/2 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits all contain the same amount of absolute alcohol."

Added Hamilton, "Additionally, beer is the alcohol of choice for underage drinkers and drunk drivers. Statistics show that alcohol-related fatalities have increased for the first time in a decade and progress to reduce underage drinking has reached a complacent plateau. Now is the time for Congress, the media and society to take a look at the broader impact of alcohol advertising and get serious about the messages we are sending to our kids."

Clayton Copeland, age 18, youth director on the MADD National Board added, "The alcohol industry spends more than $ 1 billion dollars on product advertising each year and it is estimated that for every public service announcement, teens view 25 to 50 beer and wine commercials. We say enough is enough!"

Included among its standards aimed at reducing alcohol advertising reaching youth audiences or encouraging underage drinking, drunk driving or other unsafe behavior, MADD also advocates that alcohol beverage advertising should not:

* Feature on-camera consumption
* use celebrities, music stars, athletes, animals, cartoon characters, or other language or images that appeal to youth or depict sports, rock concerts, or other events with strong appeal to youth
* target spring break activities or cultural, sporting or marketing events where it can be anticipated that more than 30 percent of the audience will be made up of people under the age of 21
* include the licensing of youth-oriented clothing or toys that feature alcohol brand names, logos, or trade characters
* portray or encourage drinking by pregnant women or women seeking to become pregnant
* model, suggest, or otherwise encourage heavy consumption
* promote underage drinking as a "rite of passage" or state or imply that any level of alcohol consumption is risk-free or safe
* associate alcohol consumption with high-risk activities or with situations that require alertness
* portray drinking as a means to achieve popularity or social acceptance, enhance sex appeal, obtain personal achievements, improve social or financial status
* portray drinking as a means to relieve stress or provide solutions to problems
* portray drinking in association with sexual passion, promiscuity, or any other amorous activity as a consequence of or in association with alcohol consumption
* or disproportionately target ethnic minority communities.

"Counter-ads should be an essential part of a network's alcohol advertising plan in order to reduce underage drinking and to balance the alcohol advertisements that air each year on our nation's airwaves. There is an increasing body of research demonstrating that alcohol counter-advertising is effective with teenagers and young adults," said Hamilton.

U.S. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-CA, backed MADD's positions and also called for Congress to hold hearings on this important issue. "Young people are already bombarded with messages promoting alcohol consumption. With this constant daily exposure to alcohol marketing, it's no wonder that over 10 million kids under the age of 21 consume alcohol, and that the average age at which children start to drink is now just 13 years old," said Roybal- Allard. "MADD's tough new standards for alcohol advertising would go a long way towards countering the considerable influence alcohol advertising has on our nation's youth."

The public opinion survey released by MADD was conducted by RoperASW as part of an omnibus survey and is a representative sample of the U.S. public ages 18 and over. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is a grassroots organization with approximately 600 chapters nationwide. MADD's mission is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking. For more information about MADD or its alcohol advertising policies, visit or call 1-800-GET-MADD.

Source: PRNewswire

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