Liquor Ads on TV
by David J. Hanson, Ph. D.
Television networks have long aired commercials for beer and wine. There is no reason for them not to include ads for distilled spirits beverages. Opponents of such ads apparently fail to recognize an important fact: a glass or bottle of beer, a five-ounce glass of dinner wine, and a shot of whiskey, gin or other distilled spirits beverage (or a mixed drink) all contain equivalent amounts of alcohol. To a breathalyzer they are all the same.
This fact was recently recognized by a federal court when it declared as "irrational" and probably unconstitutional Utah's law permitting the advertising of beer and wine but not distilled spirits.
Opposition to advertising any alcohol beverages is usually based on the false belief that such advertising increases consumption and abuse. However, extensive scientific research conducted by governments and agencies around the world makes it clear that alcohol advertising has virtually no impact on the consumption of alcohol and none at on the abuse of alcohol beverages.
If advertising doesn't increase consumption, then why do producers advertise? It's simple. Producers advertise in order to gain market share, which they do at the expense of their competitors who end up selling less. Research demonstrates that this is exactly what happens.
There is clearly no scientifically justifiable reason to ban TV commercials for distilled spirits beverages. The arguments in favor of such bans are emotional in nature and based on misconceptions.
Contrary to common belief, alcohol abuse is actually declining among both young people and the general population, as repeatedly demonstrated by government surveys. There is no reason for alarm and no reason to impose even more federal laws and regulations.