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Ban Booze Ads?

December 03, 1988

"TV Series Join Crusade to Curb Drunk Driving" (by Nikki Finke, Nov. 25) was a deserved tribute to the persistent prodding by the Harvard Alcohol Project and specifically Jay Winsten, director of Harvard University's Center of Health Communication.

As Winsten put it: ". . . Nothing can begin to rival prime-time entertainment programming in potential impact . . . especially when different economic and demographic groups closely identify with particular characters."

But getting more programs to promote the "designated driver" concept in their characters' dialogues will not threaten network revenues emanating from beer and wine ads. Banning such ads on the public's airwaves or restricting them by requiring equal time for suitable health and safety messages on the known risks of alcoholizing would.

That some TV writers, producers and directors are now pushing the "designated driver" concept without fear of losing their audiences is too little too late. Young Americans are already self-destructing, largely from beer and wine involvement: Most of their accidents, homicides and suicides are booze-related.

RAY CHAVIRA

Board member, Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco

San Gabriel

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