NewsBriefs BUTTONS

Anti-Alcohol Messages Not Included
in Federal Anti-Drug Ad Campaign


Summer 1999

On July 13, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee killed an amendment to the Treasury, Postal Service and Gerneral Government Appropriations Bill for FY 2000 (H.R. 2490) to include anti-alcohol ads in the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. The campaign is a five-year, one billion dollar advertising campaign aimed at reducing teen drug use, headed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The amendment, which was introduced by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) on May 13, had been approved on a voice vote by the House Subcommitte on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government (Sonia Nazario, "House Panel Rejects Ads on Underage Drinking," Los Angeles Times, July 14, 1999, p. A7; Sonia Nazario, "Panel Approves Adding Alcohol to Anti-Drug Ads," Denver Post, May 15, 1999, p 6A).

The measure was opposed by the alcohol lobby and Gen. Barry McCaffrey, head of ONDCP. McCaffrey said ONDCP is limited by statute to dealing with "controlled substances," which does not include alcohol. But, McCaffrey consistently attacks teenage alcohol use, saying "it's the biggest drug abuse problem for adolescents, and it's linked to the use of other, illegal drugs" (Chris Wren, "Lawmaker Seeks to Hit Alcohol in Anti-Drug Ads," Chicago Tribune, May 31, 1999).

Mario Cuomo and William Bennett, new leaders of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA), which is an arm of the advertising industry and a partner in the anti-drug media campaign, also opposed the Roybal-Allard bill. They said the campaign budget is simply not enough to combat the billions of dollars spent on advertising by alcohol companies. They concluded: ". . .to compete effectively, the Government would require hundreds of millions more to change teen-age attitudes about drinking" (William J. Bennett and Mario M. Cuomo, Letter to the Editor, "PDFA Can't Compete With Alcohol Promotion," New York Times, June 7, 1999).

Ronald Sarasin, president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association, said that the amendment would "equate the illegal underage purchase and consumption of beer with the physiological addiction posed by crack, cocaine and methamphetamine." He added that beer wholesalers "are not drug dealers and are not engaged in drive-by shootings or other criminal activities." Including alcohol in the campaign would "dilute [McCaffrey's] effort to fight youth addiction to illicit drugs crack, heroin, "crank," cocaine and other drugs that create a criminal culture" (Ronald Sarasin, Letter to the Editor, "Beer Is Not an Illegal Drug," Washington Post, June 25, 1999).

Tom Dalldorf, publisher of Celebrator Beer News said that "blindly linking `alcohol and other drugs' sends the wrong message to underage abusers in a society that has been down the path of prohibition only to find the `cure' far worse than the problem" (Tom Dalldorf, Letter to the Editor, "The Wrong Message," San Francisco Chronicle, June 20, 1999).

However, John DeLuca, president of the Wine Institute, stated that his organization had chosen to "stay on the sidelines on this issue, which is a far cry from opposition" to the bill. DeLuca stated that he agreed with the statement by the ONDCP that "an anti-underage drinking message to youth is largely a separate and distinct message from the anti-drug message, requiring a significantly different strategic approach based on scientific and behavioral knowledge" (John A. DeLuca, "Wine Institute's Stance," San Francisco Chronicle, June 23, 1999).

An editorial in the New York Times attacked the argument that going after underage drinking would dilute the anti-drug message, pointing out "the solid evidence showing that teen-age drinking is often a gateway to illicit drug use." The editorial noted that the first goal of the White House's National Drug Control Strategy is to "educate and enable America's youth to reject illegal drugs as well as alcohol and tobacco" (Editorial, "The Anti-Drug Campaign's Missing Link," New York Times, June 2, 1999).

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard -- 2435 Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC 20515, Phone: (202) 225-1766, Fax: (202) 226-0350.

Rep. Frank R. Wolf 241 Cannon HOB, Washington, DC 20515, Tel: (202) 225-5136, Fax: (202) 225-0437.

Gen. Barry McCaffrey Office of National Drug Control Policy, 750, 17th Street, NW, 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20006, Tel: (202) 395-6618, Web: <>.

Partnership for a Drug Free America 405 Lexington Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10174, Tel: (212) 922-1560, Fax: (212) 922-1570, Web: <>.

Ronald A. Sarasin - National Beer Wholesalers Association , 1100 S. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314-4494, Tel: (703) 683-4300, E-mail: <>, Web: <>.

Tom Dalldorf - Celebrator Beer News, P.O. Box 375, Hayward, CA 94543, Tel: (800) 430-BEER (2337), E-mail: <>, Web: <>.

John DeLuca - Wine Institute, 425 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94105, Tel: (415) 512-0151, Fax: (415) 442-0742, E-mail: <>, Web: <>.