Is Underage Drinking Advertising's Fault?

Regarding the editorial ``Alcohol and the Soft Sell,'' Feb. 17: The interpretation of a study by Joel Grube - that alcohol advertising influences young people's attitudes toward drinking - must be questioned, given the countervailing conclusions on this subject from the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Health and Human Services, and many independent researchers.

One of Mr. Grube's remarks cast doubt on his own study during an alcohol policy conference in Charleston, S.C., where he discussed his research in examining young people as they begin to drink. Grube told his audience: ``We have not been able to identify any effect of the advertising on initiation to drinking among these kids.''

What, then, does influence young people's attitudes toward and decisions about drinking? Research is clear on the answer: family and friends. Even Grube suggests as much in his initial study, though he downplayed these findings: ``Children who perceived more parental approval of drinking believed that drinking was more likely to have positive consequences.... Children who believed that their peers drink more frequently knew more beer slogans, and children who perceived more peer approval for drinking named more brands of beer.''

Anheuser-Busch understands the need to be involved in addressing abusive and illegal underage drinking, and we have invested more than $100 million in the last decade toward doing so - on programs that involve parents, peers, and personal responsibility. Attention to these areas will continue to yield results. According to a federally funded study by the University of Michigan, drinking among high school seniors is at its lowest level since 1975. Further, teen drunken-driving fatalities have declined almost 60 percent in the last decade, according to the US department of Transportation. Let's continue that progress by working together - putting our resources where they count. Joseph P. Castellano, St. Louis, Mo.

Is Underage Drinking Advertising's Fault? Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.

The influence that alcohol commercials have on teenagers and children is an important issue. It's sad to think of the large amounts of money and effort spent each year in treating people's problems relating to alcohol and drugs. What we need to do is change our focus more toward abstinence.

I commend the efforts mentioned in the editorial to treat the influence alcohol commercials have had on children through counter-advertising and education programs; but why not help prevent the problem by eliminating alcohol commercials from television altogether? This was done in the past for tobacco ads, and alcohol seems to be a far worse health hazard. If we're serious about ``sobering'' children, why not ``urge moderation'' in advertising? Marcianne E. Moore, West Valley, Utah

California's scapegoat

Regarding the article ``In Immigration, Lawmakers See Source of California's Problems,'' Feb. 17: I appreciate the coverage the Monitor has given to the plight of California. I learn more from the Monitor than from the local press - especially concerning the immigration crisis, which seems to be taboo here. Perhaps it is because our local editors subscribe to the rationale that a political scientist echoes in the article: ``No politician in the state will let [immigration] go away because they need a scapegoat for why the California budget is so far out of whack.''

Although leaders are evidently gaining popularity with their stand against illegal immigration, the critics are using the issue of voter enticement as the real scapegoat. How can the unregulated influx of so many rootless people be overlooked as a cause for grave political concern? Our political critics have little regard for the government's responsibility to maintaining the integrity of our borders. Certainly a rational government protects what it deems a desirable rate of immigration.

Yet some seem to think that we are a nation of unlimited opportunity. Perhaps this explains why so many contemporary reports on our country's immigration legacy forget to distinguish between the millions of immigrants who legally entered the US at the turn of the century and the present masses who enter by stealth. Anthony Nispel, San Jose, Calif.

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