Federal Court Dismisses Alcohol Advertising Case

Washington, DC, June 26, 2001— A federal district court last week dismissed a challenge to a federal agency’s ban on advertising the medical benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.  Today the two organizations that brought the suit, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Consumer Alert, announced that that they will appeal the decision.  <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


At issue is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ (ATF) policy against any mention, in alcohol beverage ads or labels, of the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and reduced risk of heart disease.  The scientific basis for this relationship is so extensive that it is cited in the federal Dietary Guidelines.  Nonetheless, ATF has banned statements on this issue since 1993. 


CEI and Consumer Alert filed a court challenge to ATF’s policy in 1996.  At a court hearing on June 14, ATF argued that it had begun a rulemaking on the issue and would reach a decision within a year.  Judge Thomas Jackson indicated that he was inclined to suspend the case until the completion of ATF’s proceeding.  CEI, however, requested a ruling so that it could file an appeal.  Last week Judge Jackson issued his ruling, dismissing the case on grounds of ripeness.


“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.  We believe we will prevail in our appeal.”


More information on this issue can be found on CEI’s website at http://cei.org/FreeSpeechIndex.asp



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 [email protected] or 202-331-1010.