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Washington coalition mounts offensive to limit ads for alcohol

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ON the TV screen an attractive woman is sitting in an elegantly appointed living room. Phone in hand, she confidently assures her friend that it is now the fashion to invite a man over for a drink, especially when the drink is Harvey's Bristol Cream.

In a newspaper ad, a group of college students seated in a classroom appears to be bored and distracted. One student is flying a paper airplane, one is chewing on a pencil, one is sleeping, and another is playing with matches. Surrounding this scene there is a bottle and a mug full of beer with the caption , ''After a real fascinating lecture, study the real taste of beer. Pabst Blue Ribbon.''

Advertisements for alcoholic beverages are a longtanding part of the American scene. Catchy jingles and snappy phrases promise power, social acceptance, wealth, happiness, and a fabulous love life to the drinker.

For many years all of this was taken in stride, but now some groups from around the country have organized to get the government to tighten its grip on such advertising.

''These new forces have learned a lot from those who were victorious in restricting cigarette ads in the 1960s,'' says Robert D. Menko, professor of marketing at the Boston University School of Business, who specializes in marketing strategies and the ethics of advertising.

Spearheading the movement is the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a private consumer-advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Last fall the institute brought together more than 25 national organizations, among them the American Medical Society on Alcoholism, Action for Children's Television, and the National Women's Health Network, to petition the Federal Trade Commission to impose severe restrictions on alcohol advertising. These organizations include consumer, women's, health, religious, and youth advocacy groups, as well as those that focus solely on the issue of drug and alcohol abuse.


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