As most of you know, cigarette advertising is banned from most mass media. Why, then, can beer and alcohol advertisers use these venues?

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Within the United States, the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA) regulates the advertising of alcoholic beverages; it is administered by the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in the Department of the Treasury. The primary rationale for not prohibiting the advertisement of alcoholic products—which are legal—is adherence to US Constitution’s First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is another US government agency responsible for monitoring advertising on television. The FTC’s position on advertising alcoholic beverages on television is consistent with its stated support of the First Amendment, which effectively limits governmental regulation of alcohol advertising as long as it is “truthful” and “nondeceptive.” One area of concern in regards to deceptive advertising includes the appeal to potential drinkers under age twenty-one.

Overall, the FTC advocates self-regulation by the alcohol industry, in terms of both the standards it adopts and its compliance with those standards. The industry’s voluntary self-regulatory codes are created and administered by three different entities: the Distilled Advertising Council, the Beer Institute, and the Wine Institute.

The rationale for banning tobacco products is directly related to the demonstrated negative health effects, which can occur even with moderate consumption. It has been argued that moderate alcohol consumption does not pose equivalent health hazards.

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