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Industry is doing something.

Industry Is Doing Something

The Surgeon General's recently announced recommendations to combat drunk driving are hard to swallow. While it really came as no surprise to the alcohol beverage industry that former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop would call for increased excise taxes and some sort of changes to established advertising practices, the suggestions regarding increased educational efforts on the drunk driving issue don't make much sense. The alcohol beverage industry--and particularly brewers and beer wholesalers--have long promoted responsible use of their products through a variety of programs.

Brewers and wholesalers have supported alcohol education and awareness programs for at least the last 10 years, their efforts coinciding with the increased concern and public outrage emanating from drunken driving and its results. The malt beverage industry, including the Beer Institute/U.S. Brewers Association and National Beer Wholesalers Association, has widely made available information to consumers and the public at large on the danger of abusing beer and other alcoholic beverages.

These programs have been successful. Drunken driving fatalities are down. But now, the Surgeon General says more needs to be done. So, U.S. brewers, the good citizens that they are, are stepping up their alcohol education programs. New television public service announcements are visible, some featuring noted celebrities. One major brewer has created a Department of Consumer Awareness and Education to focus solely on advertising and grass-roots education programs.

It is doubtful, most industry executives say, that the increased visibility of brewery-sponsored PSAs will appease critics and neo-prohibitionists. Nor are the ads likely to gather much recognition from outside the industry. Therefore, it is good to see the brewing industry is now on the offensive, rather than the defensive. Both the Beer Institute and Anheuser-Busch are beginning campaigns to promote the benefits of moderate consumption of beer. We hope that these ads--which will surely be well done--will open the eyes of industry foes who will discover that the beer industry does care and is doing something!

The Surgeon General's recommendations, however, are not completely flawed. He suggests, for example, that states review and certify alcohol server and manager training programs to ensure that training and certification of trainees is consistent with other vocational and educational programs. Such trainer intervention programs, which U.S. brewers have endorsed and partially funded for years, are effective and need to become more widely available and implemented.

Another extension of the beer industry's new-found aggressiveness can be seen in its recent objection to the linkage of malt beverages with illegal drugs. The association, if allowed to continue and fester, could cause irreparable harm to brewers and wholesalers. Beer industry executives have only recently taken on this cause. But more, as the NBWA has suggested, needs to be done, starting with grass-roots efforts.

It has been hinted that this topic will be addressed and perhaps, acted upon, when the NBWA convenes next month in Houston for its 52nd annual meeting and convention. The annual show, always a forum for hot industry issues, will no doubt lend itself this year to discussion on the dangerous association of legal alcoholic beverages with illegal drugs.

Not to be forgotten, the Master Brewers Association of the Americas this month will hold its 102nd annual technical meeting. That's no small feat for a profession, which, thanks to consolidation and technology, is feeling a decline in ranks.

So, to both the MBAA and NBWA, we express our best wishes for successful and productive meetings.
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Title Annotation:brewing industry supports drunk driving education
Author:Finnegan, Terri
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:editorial
Date:Sep 11, 1989
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