Alcohol Back in Congress’ Sights

Two alcohol-marketing studies expected to be released this week may call for ad restrictions and tax increases, sources said. At the same time, the beer and liquor industries plan to reveal changes in their codes to comply with one of the recommendations, according to sources.

The Federal Trade Commission is expected to release a report tomorrow that asks beer, wine and liquor marketers to adopt guidelines that would restrict advertising to media where 70 percent of the audience is 21 or older, sources said. The beer and liquor industries are expected to comply; the wine industry’s code already adheres to that guideline.

The Beer Institute, the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. and the FTC all declined comment.

Urban radio stations are likely to be hit hardest by the FTC’s recommendation, sources said. “The 70 percent number will probably remove a fair number of ad placements,” said one source.

The National Academy of Sciences will likely release its report Wednesday, with recommendations that may include a call for higher taxes and a national media campaign to combat underage drinking.

“We are concerned that the upcoming [NAS] report … will not reflect the hundreds of programs that the industry sponsors to fight underage drinking,” said Michelle Semones, a rep with the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., who was among the lawmakers calling for both reports, could use the studies as a basis for hearings on the issue, sources said.

The FTC last issued a report on alcoholic-beverage ads to Congress in 1999.