ALCOHOL AD RESTRAINTS SUGGESTED

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Emboldened by the Food & Drug Administration's attempt to regulate tobacco advertising, there's now an effort seeking similar restraints on liquor and beer ads.

Then there's the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which facetiously wants the FDA to look into the danger of another supposedly addictive substance-coffee.

"We are trying to demonstrate how open-ended the criteria the FDA is using really is," said Sam Kazman, general counsel of the institute. He said the FDA's proposal to use a standard of considering ad limits for any substance with a pharmacological effect is way too broad and could justify excessive regulation.

While the CEI neither wants nor expects its petition to the FDA on coffee to be treated seriously, the National Congress of Parents & Teachers is one of 40 groups that has asked President Clinton to impose restrictions on tobacco advertising.

"We strongly urge you take a harder look at the underage [and illegal] use of alcohol..." said a letter from the Coalition for the Prevention of Alcohol Problems sent to the president.

"Just as tobacco companies know that the smoking habit and addiction start in the teen-age years, alcoholic beverage companies know that if someone does not begin drinking before the age of 21, there is little chance he or she will be a drinker as an adult. Therefore they must find ways to entice young people to drink their products before it is legal for them to do so."

Alcohol "ads also use images that have a cartoon-like quality-the Bud Bowl for example-and others use animals-such as the Budweiser frogs and Red Dog beer-that are as likely to appeal to kids as RJR's Joe Camel."

"What we are asking for is a reduction in the double standard," said George Hacker, director of the alcohol policies project for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "It is ludicrous to believe that tobacco ads have an effect on kids and ads for beer don't."

Advertising groups are warning that the alcohol coalition is demonstrating the danger of the FDA's proposed tobacco restrictions.

"This is the fundamental danger of the FDA tobacco rulemaking," said Dan Jaffe, exec VP of the Association of National Advertisers. "It opens the floodgates for sweeping restrictions that go far beyond the tobacco area."

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