Alcohol back on watchdog radar


A coalition of organizations is pushing both Congress and the administration to update the nation’s policies regarding alcohol, and here’s the shocker – at this point it doesn’t say a thing about restricting advertising.

A quartet of watchdogs — Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League and Shape Up America! – have banded together on the project, timing it for the observance of National Alcohol Awareness Month. They have an action plan entitled “Alcohol Policy for the 21st Century: A Platform to Give Americans the Facts to Drink Responsibly.”

The good news for members of the broadcasting and advertising communities is that for once, they are not part of the target group. It’s four main policy initiatives involve better labeling on alcoholic beverage containers, using the Department of Health and Human Services for enhanced consumer education, using HHS and the Department of Agriculture to revise “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” to better define a “standard drink,” and spending more money — $35.5M – to prevent underage drinking as called for in pending legislation. “There is no debate within the public health and consumer community about the need for mandatory and complete alcohol labeling,” said Chris Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America. “It’s time to give consumers the same helpful and easily accessible labeling information that is now required for conventional foods, dietary supplements and nonprescription drugs.”

RBR/TVBR observation: It’s nice to see one major effort focus on something other than advertising, but other watchdog organizations will likely continue to press for restrictions, and once this particular coalition gets past this project, they may well refocus their attention on marketing issues. We’ll keep our eyes open to see if this effort picks up any headwind.