SOURCE: The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University

July 01, 2008 10:33 ET

Califano Urges NCAA to Ban All Beer and Alcohol Ads at Broadcast Events

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - July 1, 2008) - In a letter dated July 1, 2008, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Chairman and President of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA*) at Columbia University, urged the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to eliminate all beer and alcohol advertising at NCAA broadcast events.

In this letter to all 16 NCAA Executive Committee members, Califano says, "NCAA policies exclude advertisement and advertisers that 'do not appear to be in the best interests of higher education and student athletes,' including advertising for alcoholic beverages. However, NCAA policies specifically permit advertising for beer and other alcoholic products with an alcohol content of six percent or less. These policies seem contradictory and difficult to understand in the face of the enormous harm to college students each year from excessive drinking."

In March of 2007 CASA released a 231 page report, "Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America's Colleges and Universities," documenting the extent and impact of substance abuse at the nation's colleges and universities.

The CASA report revealed alcohol as the primary drug of abuse among college students and that the results of college drinking are devastating. Each year approximately:

--  1,700 students die from alcohol-related injuries;
    
--  100,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assaults or
    date rape;
    
--  700,000 students are assaulted by other students who were drinking.
    

The report also found excessive college drinking, which usually includes beer, also is linked to a long list of other problems including poor student academic performance, depression, anxiety, suicide, property damage, vandalism, fights and a host of medical problems.

"Advertisements for beer at NCAA events appeal to millions of underage students and link athletic completion to drinking, in seeming violation of NCAA's own standards which state that advertisers and advertisements associated with NCAA events should not 'cause harm to student-athlete health, safety and welfare, or negatively impact the best interests on Intercollegiate athletics or higher education,'" said Califano.

The letter went on to say that, "providing an opportunity for beer advertisers to reach young people enables the industry's attempts to attract young drinkers for their own economic benefits."

CASA's research on the commercial value of underage and adult pathological drinking published in the peer reviewed Journals of the American Medical Association (JAMA 2/03, Vol. 289 and APAM 5/06, Vol. 160), have demonstrated that up to half of all consumer expenditures for alcohol come from underage drinking and adult pathological drinking.

Califano concluded the letter by saying, "We believe that the NCAA has a responsibility to promote the health and well-being of all students at its member colleges. Fulfillment of that responsibility requires a ban on all alcohol advertising -- including beer which is such a large part of excessive student drinking."

CASA is the only national organization that brings together under one roof all the professional disciplines needed to study and combat all types of substance abuse as they affect all aspects of society. CASA has issued 68 reports and white papers, published one book, conducted demonstration projects focused on children, families and schools at 219 sites in 85 cities and counties in 33 states plus Washington, DC and two Native American tribal reservations, and has been evaluating the effectiveness of drug and alcohol treatment in a variety of programs and drug courts. CASA is the creator of the nationwide initiative Family Day - A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children™ -- the fourth Monday in September -- the 22nd in 2008 -- that promotes parental engagement as a simple and effective way to reduce children's risk of smoking, drinking and using illegal drugs. In May of 2007, CASA Chairman Joseph A. Califano, Jr. called for a fundamental shift in the nation's attitude about substance abuse and addiction with the publication of his book, "HIGH SOCIETY: How Substance Abuse Ravages America and What to Do About It." For more information visit www.casacolumbia.org.

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