Public Interest Groups Appeal In Alcohol Advertising Case

Public Interest Groups Appeal In Alcohol Advertising Case

Public's Right To Know At Issue
January 01, 2002

Washington, DC, January 2, 2002 — The Competitive Enterprise Institute and Consumer Alert today filed the opening brief in their appeal of a case involving alcohol advertising and free speech.  The groups are challenging a federal agency’s ban on advertising the medical benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.

At issue is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ (ATF) ban on any mention, in alcohol beverage ads or labels, of the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and reduced risk of heart disease.  Scientific support for this relationship is so extensive that it is even cited in the federal government’s own Dietary Guidelines.  Nonetheless, ATF has banned statements on this issue since 1992.

“ATF’s policy is contrary to both the Constitution and common sense,” said CEI general counsel Sam Kazman.  “The health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption have been documented by some of the world’s foremost epidemiologists, and their findings have been published in leading scientific journals.  Even the federal government acknowledges these benefits.  ATF’s ban on any mention of this in alcohol labels and ads is clearly illegal. It violates the fundamental concept that the public is better served by more, rather than less, information.”

At a district court hearing in June 2001, ATF argued that the case should be delayed while it completes a new rulemaking on the issue.  Judge Thomas Jackson agreed and dismissed the case on grounds of ripeness, even though ATF has enforced its ban for nearly a decade.  CEI is now appealing the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  A hearing has been scheduled for May 9, 2002.

The text of CEI and Consumer Alert’s brief can be found on CEI’s website at:,02273.cfm

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information, please contact the media relations department at or 202-331-1010.