Flush with more than a million dollars from the neo-prohibitionist Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Alcohol Policies Project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) attacks the responsible consumption of beer, wine, and spirits with the same zeal — and, unfortunately, success — that CSPI brings to dictating our food choices. Now, just one week after CSPI announced that it would ask universities to prohibit adult beverage advertising during college sports broadcasts, Ohio State University, last year’s national football champion, has agreed to ban alcohol ads from TV and radio airings of all OSU sporting events.
Such an immediate and high profile victory for CSPI testifies to its unnerving influence — especially considering that this is an obvious step toward CSPI’s goal of a comprehensive ban on TV advertising of adult beverages. Consider the audience that CSPI wants to prevent from seeing alcohol commercials. Nearly 90 percent of college football and basketball viewers are over 21, according to Nielsen Media Research. But that doesn’t seem to matter to CSPI, which touted its program as an “Alcohol-Free Sports TV” effort. So don’t think that the group will stop with college sports.
Similarly, CSPI’s previous efforts to prevent the marketing of adult beverages to minors have been rife with misstatements and faulty conclusions. Last year the Federal Trade Commission unequivocally rejected the activist group’s allegations that flavored malt beverages were being marketed to underage drinkers.
And when it comes to adult beverages, CSPI has gone out of its way to prevent the truth from getting out. For example, the group objects to informational labels about the well-documented health benefits of moderate wine consumption, arguing that consumers are just too stupid to understand them.
How little tolerance does CSPI have for adult beverages? The captain of the pleasure police, CSPI’s Michael Jacobson, even suggested supplanting taverns. According to Jacobson: “They really should develop an alternative for people to socialize — a real fun coffeehouse. Maybe a carrot-juice house.”