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House `alcopop' ad critics look for support

House members and vocal alcohol ad critics Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Lucille
Roybal-Allard (D.-Calif.) plan to ask the Energy and Commerce Committee to
hold hearings on alcohol advertising.

Looking to drum up support among colleagues, Roybal-Allard, Mothers Against
Drunk Driving and the Center for Science in the Public Interest hosted a
briefing for congressional staffers yesterday. Wolf couldn't attend, but he was
co-host anyway.

The briefing, which included airing ads for Coors Brewing Co. and Smirnoff Ice, was
intended to encourage staffers to pitch their bosses on signing a letter to
Energy and Commerce calling for the hearings.

The letter is expected to be circulated in the next couple of weeks.

The committee was under pressure from these same groups to hold hearings
earlier in the year, when NBC was planning to break the unwritten code against
network liquor ads.

That pressure let up in March when NBC put a cork in those plans after
entreaties from members of Congress, including Energy and Commerce chairman
Billy Tauzin (R-La.).

The briefing followed MADD's call for hearings Tuesday, which itself
followed the CSPI's release a couple of weeks ago of a study of ads for so-called
alcopops that suggested that they were enticing teens.

MADD wants tighter controls on all alcohol advertising and a quid pro quo of
public-safety messages to run with the campaigns that do air.

Because of ads for the "malternatives," MADD said, "Teens are being bombarded
with sexy product ads glamorizing drinking."