Beam Global Spirits and Wine is doing its part to control the epidemic of bourbon abuse among American teenagers. From now on, the company recently announced, it will advertise its products, which include Canadian Club whiskey as well as Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbon, only in venues where at least 75 percent of the audience is 21 or older. That standard is five percentage points higher than the cutoff recommended by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Since "Beam's products skew toward older drinkers," as The New York Times puts it, there's little downside, even if the company does end up shifting around a few ads. At the same time, since Beam says "there is no causal connection between alcohol advertising and under-age drinking," by its own account there's no conceivable benefit from its decision aside from the P.R. value. As it turns out, this is just the sort of empty, self-contradictory gesture that can earn a company praise from 37 state attorneys general.
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