Alcohol

Truth in Advertising

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Some people forget that the A in BATF stands for Alcohol. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms doesn't.

For years the evidence that one or two drinks a day can be good for you has mounted. In 1996, the Federal Dietary Guidelines finally conceded that "moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk for coronary heart disease." But the BATF continues to bar beer, wine, and liquor companies from making truthful statements about the medical benefits of moderate alcohol consumption on labels and in advertisements.

So the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Consumer Alert have filed suit to force the agency to permit makers of alcoholic beverages to tell the truth. "Although the First Amendment doesn't mention ATF by name, we've got a hunch it applies to them as well," says CEI's General Counsel Sam Kazman.

But Kazman says the case is about more than upholding the First Amendment. Most Americans have no idea that alcohol can have health benefits. CEI conducted a poll of 1,000 registered voters in late October and learned that only 41.7 percent know wine has health benefits. Just one in 10 know this is true for beer and liquor as well.