CEI Criticizes ATF’s Proposed Ban On Alcoholic Beverage Health Statements

Washington, D.C., February 23, 2000 – CEI today filed comments urging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to withdraw its proposed rule banning health statements on alcoholic beverage labels and advertisements.

In 1996, CEI filed suit against ATF, challenging the agency’s de facto policy of refusing to allow any mention on labels and ads of the cardiovascular and overall health benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption, depriving both industry speakers and consumer listeners of their First Amendment rights. With this case still pending, ATF is now seeking to codify its unofficial ban through this rulemaking.

CEI’s comments document the extensive medical evidence demonstrating that moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages reduces cardiovascular risk and overall mortality for the majority of the adult population. This includes several studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, British Medical Journal, and other leading publications, the conclusions from which would be prohibited under ATF’s proposal.

CEI’s comments also summarize the Supreme Court and other federal case law concluding that accurate summaries of health information are Constitutionally protected against government restrictions on labeling and advertising. “ATF’s proposed ban fails on the facts as well as the law,” says CEI Policy Analyst Ben Lieberman.

CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. To view CEI’s comments, visit our website at http://www.cei.org.