The Federal Trade Commission says it has no evidence that the advertising and
marketing of flavored malt beverages, Smirnoff Ice, Mike's Hard Lemonade and the
like, is being targeted to minors.
Responding to a complaint from the Center for Science in the Public Interest,
Howard Beales III, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, wrote
that after review of advertising practices and internal marketing and
consumer-research documents, "we do not believe that the available information
supports the conclusion that the new flavored malt beverages, which your letter
refers to as `alcopops', are targeted to minors."
Beales wrote George Hacker, director of the Alcohol Policies Project, that
the bureau's finding was not that "a violation may not have occurred," only that
it could find no evidence. Beales reserved the right to revisit the issue. He
also said the investigation did suggest a need for improved labeling, adding
that he would pursue that with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco.
CSPI's George Hacker said in response: "We're disappointed, although we find
the letter responsive to our concerns. We never complained about the TV
advertising, since there wasn't any at the time we petitioned. We are heartened
that the commission recognized the core of our complaint, which is that there is
consumer confusion about the nature of these products."
CSPI filed its petition in May 2001.