The Post's June 18 editorial on including alcohol in the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign was correct from a public health perspective: Underage drinking is a serious problem that deserves attention. But from a marketing perspective, The Post was incorrect to suggest that simply adding alcohol messages to this campaign will add to its effectiveness.
I don't question the relevance of targeting underage drinking. But as an advertising professional with more than 30 years of experience, I question the wisdom of risking and perhaps killing the effectiveness of one media campaign to create another that cannot and will not work given current limitations.
What message would you use to persuade teenagers not to drink beer? What would you to say to parents to change their attitudes about wine? What would you say to both to convince them that drinking excessively can be dangerous?
No one knows, because extensive research to determine this has not been done. Additionally, to really change attitudes about alcohol, this campaign would have to compete head-to-head with the billions spent to market alcohol products. Shaving money out of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign would not accomplish this. We do not question the rightness of addressing underage drinking. Our concerns focus on what we can and cannot accomplish with the current appropriation.
RICHARD D. BONNETTE
President and CEO
Partnership for a Drug-Free America
Beer is not an illegal drug. Beer wholesalers are not drug dealers and are not engaged in drive-by shootings or other criminal activities. Therefore, the National Beer Wholesalers Association believes it would be wrong to include anti-alcohol messages under the domain of the president's director of national drug policy, Barry McCaffrey, to fight illegal drug use by America's youth. To do so would dilute his effort to fight youth addiction to illicit drugs -- crack, heroin, "crank," cocaine -- and other drugs that create a criminal culture.
The amendment sponsored by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.) seeks to equate the illegal underage purchase and consumption of beer with the physiological addiction posed by crack, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. The amendment undermines the work done by the Office of National Drug Control Policy to combat illicit drug use among America's youth. Moreover, both the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and Gen. McCaffrey have publicly opposed the mandate that would result.
The beer industry is fighting the illegal purchase and consumption of beer by minors and spends millions annually on alcohol-awareness programs targeted at youth, and Congress has appropriated more than $800 million to other government agencies to reduce alcohol abuse and illegal underage alcohol consumption.
Weakening Gen. McCaffrey's illicit-drug program will result only in strengthening the hand of America's criminal drug dealers.
National Beer Wholesalers Association