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Washington, DC, May 14, 2002—The Competitive Enterprise Institute and Consumer Alert’s case to allow advertising of the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption must wait for a new rule from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, an appeals court has ruled.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
In its decision released Friday, a panel of the U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court decision that the case was not ripe because ATF had not yet issued its forthcoming rule on alcohol beverage health claims. The rule is expected within several months. CEI had argued that ATF in fact already had a ban in place on moderate consumption health claims, and that this ban violated the First Amendment. In recent years, several Supreme Court decisions have made it clear that commercial speech concerning alcohol is entitled to a high degree of constitutional protection.
“The appellate court’s ruling did not address the merits of our case, only the ripeness,” said Sam Kazman, CEI’s general counsel. “It’s possible that, in its new rule, ATF will come to its senses and recognize that truthful speech in alcohol labels and ads cannot be suppressed. If ATF fails to do so, then, one way or another, its censorship will end up facing court review.”
A large number of scientific studies have established the fact that moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of heart disease. This fact is even noted in the federal government’s own Dietary Guidelines. Nonetheless, ATF has refused to allow alcohol labels and ads to even contain references to those guidelines.
For more information about this case, please visit CEI’s website at www.cei.org .
CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please visit our website at www.cei.org .