<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Washington, D.C., February 28, 2003—Today the U.S. Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (formerly the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) issued a new rule on health labels for alcoholic beverages. In issuing the new rule, the Bureau is responding to the federal court challenge brought by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Consumer Alert, which sued the agency on First Amendment grounds over its longstanding ban on any health claims on alcohol labels.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
“The agency's new rule, which took incredibly long to be issued, is as contrary to the First Amendment as its old policy,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. “Despite the fact that alcohol's risks are well known, and are prominently stated on every beverage label, Treasury is now demanding that these risks be spelled out in even more detail before the public can be told about the health benefits of moderate consumption. In reality, these demands are an attempt to block truthful information that much of the public would find useful. This is paternalistic censorship, pure and simple.”
There is a huge body of medical evidence showing that moderate alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, this is even mentioned in the federal government’s own Dietary Guidelines. Despite this, the Bureau’s new rule places an unwarranted burden on communicating this information. CEI is investigating the possibility of a new legal challenge to the rule.
For more information on alcohol labeling and public health and CEI’s legal challenge, see our website at http://www.cei.org/sections/section16.cfm.