Submission Number: 00059
Received: 4/15/2011 10:57:38 PM
Commenter: Dianne Berlin
Organization: Salem UM Church & Society
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Initiative: Alcohol Reports: Project No. P114503
Attachments: No Attachments
Legalizing any harmful activity or substance never removes the harm. It just changes the legal consequences. However, for some people, legalization seems to eradicate the negatives especially when it is promoted in ads which do not appear to meet truth in advertising guidelines. Casual use in programs, movies, events, etc. helps to promote this misconception. The alcoholic beverage interests have been shameless in their promotion of this drug.
Alcohol is a harmful substance whose harm extends far beyond the user. Changes directed at a change in attitude need to include changes in both supply and demand and advertising plays a huge role in this.
Alcohol's costs are approximately twelve and a half times ($185 billion) more than the state and federal taxes ($14.5 billion) collected. Just measuring on an economic basis, this is a bad deal. When calculating the actual lives lost, injuries, health impact, etc. the human faces are many and the real costs. The "fox in the henhouse" advertising is a blatant disregard for people ... both those who use and those who don't but are also impacted.
Our approach on the "War on Drugs" stressed legality. The approach should have been and can be that ALL drugs have negative impacts and should only be used for legitimate medical reasons when drug-free approaches have been ruled out as ineffective.
Several items to be considered to change the attitude toward alcohol and the supply side are the following:
1. Alcohol is a mind-altering drug which should be under the Food and Drug Administration where it would have to meet the stiff standards of other drugs. If all impacts are considered, it is hard to imagine that it would be approved as a drug to be dispensed unless absolutely as a last resort and any advertising would have to address this. This would certainly cause real changes in their advertising guidelines.
2. The alcoholic beverage producers, marketers and sellers should be held liable for the damage of this drug just as other drug manufacturers are.
3. Any necessary advertising of alcohol needs to include the negative impacts on the health of the user. Just as with tobacco, its use should be removed from movies, television programs and print ads.
4. All publications related to cooking, schools on all levels which include cooking classes as well as any cooking programs need to correct the misconception that "alcohol cooks off." The Department of Agriculture had a very clear chart on this.
5. Wineries, breweries and other producers of alcohol need to be labeled as drug producers and should not be allowed to receive any tax breaks or special exemptions. They should NOT be a part of the Department of Agriculture.
6. Any establishment serving alcohol should not be allowed to advertise as a family or family-friendly venue.
7. All food in restaurants containing alcohol should be labeled.