With July 4 right around the corner, Americans across the country will be celebrating the 241st anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence — complete with lighting up the grill and enjoying a cold beer. Families will travel on vacation, and friends and neighbors will gather for parades, barbecues and fireworks. Alcohol will be a part of many of these activities, which means that it is a good time to remind each other that if you choose to drink, do it responsibly.
Together America’s brewers, beer importers, and policymakers support this national undertaking toward education and have demonstrated prevention in both current and historic efforts. For decades the beer industry and policymakers have encouraged parents to talk to their children about safer choices. In addition to these family resources, our industries have actively promoted the use of designated drivers and alternative transportation for safe rides home, including providing more than one million safe rides home last year alone.
Members of Congress, as well as more than 2.2 million Americans whose jobs depend on the beer industry, are also parents and family members. We are dedicated to our communities, and we understand that when we work together, we can achieve positive results.
Together with government oversight from the Federal Trade Commission, the beer industry continues successful and responsible limits of its advertising. Members self-regulate, placing advertising in channels where 71.6 percent of the audience is of legal drinking age. Periodically, the FTC requests placements and reviews for compliance and makes suggestions, many which have been added to the Code over time.
Together we have underscored the strong belief that driving drunk is never acceptable, and we will continue to show support for impactful policy choices that prevent drunk driving. These choices include administrative license revocation, swift and escalated penalties for drunk drivers, judicial discretion, high visibility enforcement, and the use of DWI Courts. This work is paying off. According to the Department of Transportation, drunk-driving fatalities have declined 51 percent since 1982. We still have more work to do to make sure that our roads and highways are safe for everyone, but these efforts are contributing to this downward trend.
A commitment to responsible advertising is just one method to reduce underage drinking. For decades, brewers, beer importers and elected officials have worked with medical and other experts to create educational materials for parents, including basic facts about alcohol and how-to guidelines for starting conversations with children. And America’s retailers are essential to ensuring that only adults of legal drinking age purchase alcohol.
The commitment of policymakers, parents, educators, law enforcement, community leaders, business owners, brewers and beer importers is showing results. In 2016, the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study showed record-low levels of underage drinking among eighth-, 10th-, and 12th-graders.
So, as we prepare to toast our nation’s founding and the freedoms that are a part of it, we know that many Americans will enjoy a beer or two. Whether or not you choose to drink, we all can join in the endeavor to spread the word about alcohol responsibility. Learn something new, start a conversation with a loved one, be vocal about your choice to be a designated driver, and step in to stop someone if you see they might drive drunk. If you choose to drink, please do so legally and responsibly. Our families, neighbors and communities are depending on it.
Rep. Mike Gallagher represents Wisconsin’s 8th District. Jim McGreevy is the president and CEO of The Beer Institute.
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