Meeting to address alcohol advertising


    By Rachel Olsen

    The Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission of the State of Utah will be conducting an open meeting at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at Commission headquarters, 1625 S. 900 W., Salt Lake.

    The commission is reviewing the policy dealing with advertising for alcohol, according to the commission”s secretary. The purpose of the meeting will be to review all the proposed rules submitted by various organizations, one of which was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Through Jerry Fenn, a private practicing attorney, who also represents the church, worry was expressed about liberalizing vigilance in enforcing alcohol consumption policies.

    “The church is deeply concerned about the moral, social and health costs directly associated with the consumption of alcohol in a state where so many of its members reside,” Fenn said.

    Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) also submitted views about the regulation of alcohol advertising.

    MADD officials feel advertising should be specifically pointed to deter minors, those under the age of 21, from buying and/or consuming alcohol.

    MADD officials feel a warning label, stating the illegality of underage purchase and chances of physical damage, should accompany all alcohol advertisements.

    “It does not ask for a total ban on advertising, but a reasonable position of an underage warning that is in keeping with constitutional law,” according to MADD”s proposal sent to the commission.

    “We feel that the state of Utah has the right and obligation to establish and then protect the safety zone required around its youth from the misrepresentation of unrestricted alcohol advertising.”

    Mary E. Phillips, president of MADD, said the organization”s main objective is to put something forward that is constitutional.

    “We”re just saying, ”Hey, let”s try something else.” We don”t want freedom of speech taken away, but we want to express a concern for youth,” Phillips said.

    The Church of Jesus Christ also expressed a pointed, rising concern for youth exposure to alcohol.

    “Operational restrictions for licensed establishments to limit the exposure of minors to alcohol should be considered,” the church”s proposal to the commission said.

    However, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Inc., (DISCUS), feels such policies would be unconstitutional.

    In direct response to the proposals made by MADD, DISCUS officials said warning labels would be unnecessary, since underage purchasing is already prohibited.

    “The Salt Lake County chapter”s [of MADD] suggested revisions to the commission”s rules are misguided and inherently flawed,” DISCUS”s proposal to the commission said.

    “The proposed “Under 21 Age Warning Label” would send the message — the wrong message,” it said.

    David Holliday, vice president of DISCUS, said the face of MADD”s suggestion did not appear to be something they would approve.

    “That would be something we”d have to sit down and talk about, but it is probably not something we would favor,” Holliday said.

    Both MADD and the church are concerned with the youth of Utah, but the church believes tight policies should extend to all alcoholic beverages.

    “The church has a constitutional and moral obligation to speak out on certain issues,” the church proposal said.

    “Alcohol policy is among those paramount issues on which the church can and does take a stand and will advocate its position in the democratic process.”

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