News & Media
Brewers and Beer Importers are Working Behind the Scenes to Promote Responsible Consumption
by Bill Young, Senior Director, Health Policy and Regulatory Affairs
April is Alcohol Awareness Month. The National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, one of the organizations instrumental in setting the national drinking age to 21 in 1984, established Alcohol Awareness Month to educate people about alcohol issues, especially among our nation’s youth.
A crucial part of alcohol awareness is knowing the amount of alcohol in your beverage. America’s leading brewers and beer importers are leading the way to ensure consumers have access to this information by voluntarily providing the alcohol by volume as well as freshness dating, nutritional information—including the amount of calories and carbohydrates—and the ingredients in the final products on their beer brands. This commitment is the first of its kind by any alcohol category.
Providing for their consumers is a long tradition for the beer industry. Each year, the Beer Institute, its member companies, nationwide prevention partners like the National Social Norms Center or 1800TAXICAB, as well as wholesalers and retail businesses in local communities join together to educate the public on the potential dangers of alcohol abuse, prevent underage drinking and encourage legal consumers to drink responsibly. From helping retail businesses prevent underage alcohol sales to educating college students about the dangers of overconsumption or encouraging legal age consumers to use alternative transportation when consuming alcohol, the Beer Institute’s members make significant contributions to preventing underage drinking and other alcohol abuse.
Many of these efforts are highly visible. Initiatives like “Let’s Keep Talking,” “SoberRide,” “TiPS,” and “Responsibility Has Its Rewards” are just a handful of efforts our brewers and beer importers work on every day:
- “Let’s Keep Talking” and “Family Talk” both help parents talk to their teens about drinking. Research has shown that parents are the single most important influence on their children’s decisions to drink or not, and these resources help parents have those conversations.
- “SoberRide” is a program operated during holiday periods by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program. Founded in 1982, the nonprofit is an award-winning public-private partnership working to prevent drunk driving and underage drinking in the Washington-metropolitan region. It may best be known to area residents for the organization’s popular free safe ride service for would-be drunk drivers, SoberRide®.
- “TiPS” is a program of Health Communications, Inc., and is the foremost training program in the country for servers and sellers of alcoholic beverages. The program transfers skills to stop underage purchases and intervene when consumers are nearing unsafe impairment levels.
- The Responsibility Has Its Rewards® campaign promotes traffic safety, positive fan behavior, responsible alcohol consumption and the designated driver program at sports and entertainment facilities. A program of the TEAM Coalition along with the Beer Institute and our nation’s largest brewers, partners in the campaign include NHTSA – the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, state offices of highway safety, professional and collegiate sports, entertainment facilities, concessionaires, stadium service providers, distillers and broadcasters.
However, perhaps the most significant responsibility work is less visible. Every day, teams in our member companies work diligently to make sure their advertising and marketing materials comply with the Beer Institute Advertising and Marketing Code, as well as local, state and federal regulations.
The basic principles underlying the Beer Institute Advertising & Marketing Code are:
- Beer advertising should not suggest directly or indirectly that any of the laws applicable to the sale and consumption of beer should not be followed.
- Brewers and beer importers should adhere to contemporary standards of good taste applicable to all commercial advertising and consistent with the medium or context in which the advertising appears.
- Advertising themes, creative aspects, and placements should reflect the fact that brewers and importers are responsible corporate citizens.
- Brewers and beer importers strongly oppose the abuse or inappropriate consumption of their products.
Making sure each piece of advertising and marketing adheres to the Advertising and Marketing Code is at the core of the work for our member companies. For staff at our member companies, the review not only includes television and digital advertising, but also every point-of-sale item, including every sign, table tent, cooler decal, neon sign, poster, and more that you see in daily life. If you’ve seen an item with one of our member company’s logos on it, you can bet it’s been through internal review teams to make sure it is compliant with the Beer Institute Advertising & Marketing Codes and all relevant laws. If any piece of advertising or marketing is found non-compliant, it is immediately taken down.
It is all part of a sophisticated and well-established regulatory system of alcohol advertising in the United States. Each company in the alcohol industry generates thousands of pieces of advertising and marketing material each year. Therefore, the federal government and many state governments depend on the industry to do a great job at self-regulation. Four audits by the Federal Trade Commission, most recently in 2014, have confirmed the alcohol industry’s self-regulatory efforts are working well.
Brewers, beer importers and our other partners in beverage alcohol work year-round to ensure they responsibly market the alcohol products they sell. This work is key to ensuring consumers drink responsibly. To learn more about our responsibility work, visit https://www.beerinstitute.org/responsibility/overview/.
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