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Washington Report

July 2006

Produced by the Alcohol Policies Project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington Report provides online information and updates about domestic and international alcohol-policy issues, including alcohol advertising and marketing, labeling, product development, taxation, and industry political and commercial initiatives.  Washington Report also provides action alerts to inform advocates of opportunities to promote and influence pro-health alcohol policies.

In this Edition:

Federal Developments

Advocacy News

Industry Watch

New Book from CSPI


Federal Developments


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STOP Act Update

At this time, negotiations are underway that MAY allow the STOP Underage Drinking Act to move directly to the floors of the House and Senate under suspension of the rules. Such action is unlikely without the explicit cooperation and support of the alcoholic-beverage industry. The beer industry, in particular the National Beer Wholesalers Association, has signaled a willingness to help move the bill in exchange for the inclusion of new language that would affirm the importance and primacy of state regulation of alcoholic beverages. STOP Act supporters concluded that the language is not inconsistent with the intent or substance of the bill. The beer industry's support for the bill is also contingent on sponsors' elimination of the "findings" section and portions of the "sense of Congress" resolution. That section includes language urging colleges and the NCAA voluntarily to eliminate alcohol advertising in televised college sports.

Organizational members of the National Alliance to Prevent Underage Drinking (NAPUD) have been consulted during sponsor negotiations with industry. It remains to be seen whether the STOP Act will now move with industry support. We will keep our readers posted on any new developments.

Meanwhile, with the addition of Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) as a STOP Act co-sponsor in late June, there are now 25 senators co-sponsoring S. 408. Seven more members recently also signed on to the House version of the bill (H.R. 864), bringing the number of House co-sponsors to 81. The full list of co-sponsors can be viewed on-line at:



The STOP Act adopts well-tested, common-sense policies and programs recommended in the Institute of Medicine's September 2003 report to Congress, "Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility." The bill would:

  • Establish a coordinated leadership role for the federal government to combat underage drinking via a Secretary-level Interagency Coordinating Committee;
  • Require an annual report to better monitor progress on key underage drinking indicators;
  • Authorize a national, adult-oriented media campaign to prevent underage drinking;
  • Make funds available to communities to combat youth alcohol use;
  • Fund additional research on underage drinking.

Prior to industry's "offer" to help move the STOP bill as stand-alone legislation under suspension of the rules (in exchange for language helpful to them in the continuing debate over "direct shipments" and the status of wholesalers in the distribution of alcoholic beverages), representatives of the legislative working group of the National Alliance to Prevent Underage Drinking (CSPI, MADD and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) had explored other legislative strategies. Alliance representatives met with staff from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) in early June regarding the status of re-authorization of the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the prospects for incorporating STOP Act provisions within that legislation. It remains unclear whether the SAMHSA re-authorization will move before adjournment, but at the very least we hope to lay the groundwork to move a bill in the next Congress.

Amending the SAMHSA re-authorization might prove difficult, because the bill might have limited goals, including rationalizing, streamlining, and eliminating redundancies among the diverse authorities within the expired SAMHSA statute. That approach could result in the possible elimination or consolidation of some 15 SAMHSA authorities that have never been funded.

The narrow focus of the SAMHSA re-authorization makes it unlikely that the STOP Act can be passed as a discrete part of that bill. Rather, if that bill is the vehicle, we will need to develop recommendations for how best to incorporate STOP Act provisions within existing SAMHSA authorities.

On the House side, there is little hope that the Energy and Commerce Committee will get SAMHSA re-authorization on the agenda before adjournment. However, as in the past, the House need not have its own bill because it could simply agree to pass the Senate's version. So far, no administration bill for SAMHSA re-authorization has been proposed, but that is not unusual.


For information related to Federal Policy, please contact Kim Miller, Manager of Federal Relations



















Labor HHS Appropriations Update

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HR 5647 and accompanying report 109-515

S. 3708 and accompanying report 109-287

The House Committee on Appropriations completed work on its FY 2007 Labor/Health and Human Services (HHS) appropriations bill on June 13, 2006. On July 20th, the Senate Committee on Appropriations completed its version of the bill. The two versions will now go to a House-Senate conference committee. CSPI will monitor the progress of the bill and lobby for the strongest language and highest appropriations. As has occurred in the past, the Labor HHS bill is unlikely to pass as a stand-alone measure; it is more likely that it will get rolled into an omnibus package with other appropriations bills.

Both bills and reports contain substantial comment on underage drinking issues. Some highlights include:

  • Continued funding of the Ad Council PSA campaign on underage drinking prevention.
  • Praise for the planned Surgeon General's "Call to Action" on underage drinking and clear direction to the ICCPUD (Inter-Agency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking) for an aggressive dissemination and publicity effort when it is released.
  • Acknowledgement of the ICCPUD's January 2006 plan of action on underage drinking prevention as well as its role in engaging the states in activities to combat underage drinking. The Senate report, in particular, expressed disappointment with the ICCPUD's plan of action and the modest and short-term nature of its stated goals. The Senate report also indicated an interest in highlighting the findings and trends on underage drinking in the Monitoring the Future Survey reports produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
  • Support for restoring underage drinking prevention funding for the Department of Education's Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities program, which had been zeroed out in the President's FY07 budget request.


FTC to Conduct Another Review of Industry Advertising Practices

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In early March, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced its intention to conduct the third in a series of reviews of advertising practices by the alcoholic beverage industry. In early May, CSPI and 47 other organization submitted joint comments recommending improvements to the FTC's reporting and monitoring of industry alcohol advertising practices. Other organizations also commented on the forthcoming review, including the American Medical Association and the National Association of Attorneys General. All public comments can be accessed on the FTC's website.

We anticipate a report sometime in the winter.

In addition to its previous comments to the FTC, CSPI submitted a detailed letter to the Chairman calling the agency's attention to the rapid expansion of alcoholic-beverage sponsorships in NASCAR automobile racing just as the sport ramps up its recruitment of young fans. CSPI sent the Chairman a miniature toy race car with ostentatious Miller Lite logos that sells for less than $5 on the NASCAR website, noting that of all NASCAR sponsor categories, alcoholic beverages is now the largest. CSPI urged the Commission to examine the connection of alcohol and driving for NASCAR's many young fans in its upcoming investigation of alcohol industry marketing practices. For more information, see CSPI's press release.


Alcohol Labeling: The Wait for Proposed Rules

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This fall, in response to a 2003 petition by CSPI and others, the Alcohol Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) is expected to issue the first of an expected three separate rules addressing ingredients, serving facts, and allergen labeling of alcoholic beverages. The proposed rules would come nearly a year after the closing of the comment period for the TTB's "advance notice of proposed rule-making" on alcoholic-beverage labeling reforms.



Big Beer Pushes Tax Rollback

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In an annual rite of spring, Big Beer again convened in Washington for its legislative conference on May 8-10. Among other items, brewers and beer wholesalers promoted a beer tax rollback bill, as they have since 1991. The bills (H.R. 1306 in the House and S. 722 in the Senate) would cut the current $18 per-barrel federal excise tax on beer in half by repealing the 1991 beer tax increase.

Having contributed generously to campaign coffers (the two biggest alcohol industry donors, the National Beer Wholesalers Association and Anheuser-Busch, have handed out $1,735,000 and $634,014, respectively, in the 2006 election cycle alone), the beer lobby has recruited 196 cosponsors of the House measure and 13 for the Senate bill. Featured "best friends" of the beer industry this year include House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Senator George Allen (R-VA). Both addressed the beer industry conference and lauded the beer industry's "commitment to the betterment of their communities." CSPI marked the occasion with a blast-fax to all Hill offices entitled "Thank You for Drinking: Dirty Little Secrets the Beer Lobby Will Never Tell You on their Lobby Days."

House cosponsors of H.R. 1306:
Senate cosponsors of S. 722:




Advocacy News








Big Ten Athletic Telecasts Go (Partly) Alcohol-Free
A new sports television network—The Big Ten Channel—operated by the Big Ten athletic conference and Fox Cable Networks won't have ads for beer or other alcoholic beverages—a historic move praised by CSPI's Campaign for Alcohol-Free Sports TV. That campaign has been calling on the National Collegiate Athletic Association and its member conferences and schools not to expose its young fans to beer ads on televised games.

"This landmark deal recognizes that the reputations of universities and the values of sports are fundamentally incompatible with alcohol marketing to young people," said George A. Hacker, director of CSPI's Alcohol Policies Project. "It also proves that alcohol revenue isn't necessary to run a profitable sports television venture. The Big Ten, its commissioner Jim Delany, and Fox deserve a great deal of credit for this pioneering move."

The Big Ten's new contract with ABC/ESPN, however, will still allow beer ads.

Big Ten member Ohio State University—under the leadership of President Karen Holbrook and then-Athletic Director Andy Geiger—was the first university to endorse the Campaign's pledge to work for an end to alcohol ads on college sports broadcasts. Northwestern University and the University of Minnesota were also among early signers. To date, 246 schools in the NCAA—nearly a quarter of member schools—and the Ivy League and Big South athletic conferences have endorsed the "College Commitment" to eliminate alcohol advertising on televised college sports.


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Global Resolution Protests Alcohol Promotion in World Cup Events

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On June 22, in the midst of the World Cup international soccer tournament, influential medical organizations and grassroots groups from around the world called on FIFA, the governing body for the World Cup, to get rid of alcohol promotion at World Cup events and on match broadcasts. More than 260 diverse health, youth, sports, and religious groups from 43 nations endorsed a global resolution urging World Cup organizers to stop undermining the positive values of sport by putting beer ads in front of so many young soccer fans worldwide. Included among the signers were the World Medical Association and the American Medical Association. CSPI's Campaign for Alcohol-Free Sports TV led the effort to draft and gather endorsements for the resolution.

Just days after the resolution was submitted to FIFA, Maria Eichhorn, Germany's drug czar, sharply criticized alcohol promotion in the World Cup. "It's incomprehensible that celebrities are advertising alcohol at the World Cup and put across the idea that alcohol and sports belong together," she said. "Especially for children and youth, who imitate their idols, this is the wrong message."

According to FIFA, in 2002 a cumulative audience exceeding 28.8 billion viewers watched more than 41,100 hours of dedicated World Cup television programming over the 25 match days of the event—and 1.1 billion people watched the final match on television.

The resolution calls on FIFA to examine the role of marketing alcoholic beverages in the World Cup for "consistency with the values of sport, health, and fair play represented by international sports competition."



Industry Watch





Diageo Ad Withdrawn

In response to a June 19 complaint from CSPI, the Code Review Board at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) concluded that a TV ad for 17% alcohol by vVolume (ABV) Baileys Irish Cream violated its voluntary advertising code provisions. According to DISCUS, Diageo, which markets Baileys, "immediately took steps to pull the advertisement in question and has discontinued the Baileys advertising execution subject to [the] complaint." According to the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY), the ad ran 559 times between June 5 and June 25 before it was discontinued. The ad featured a character apparently pouring a bottle of Baileys into an ice bucket, which he then handled as a single serving. The DISCUS Code provides that alcohol advertising materials should not "depict situations where beverage alcohol is being consumed excessively or in an irresponsible manner." Diageo unsuccessfully contested the complaint, asserting that the pour was "timed" for a 50 ml serving and that (barely visible) superimposed text in the advertisement suggested a 50 ml pour.


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New Book from CSPI





Help the Planet and Yourself with a New Book from CSPI

CSPI's latest book, Six Arguments for a Greener Diet, finds that eating more plant foods and fewer fatty animal products can lead to extra years of healthy living. That same diet also leads to much less food poisoning, water pollution, air pollution, global warming, and animal suffering. You can order it for $14.95 at http://www.cspistore.org/item/SixArguments.html.




Contact Information:

For more information, please send us an email.

Center for Science in the Public Interest
Alcohol Policies Project
1220 L St. NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC  20009
Phone: (202) 332-9110
Fax: (202) 265-4954


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