UNDERAGE DRINKING: Video Campaign Targets Latino Youth
The liquor industry yesterday launched "a Spanish-language video program to discourage underage drinking in the Latino community." The Los Angeles Times reports that the Century Council, "a distiller-funded nonprofit organization that ... has poured $90 million into campaigns against drunk drinking and underage drinking," produced videos to "discuss various ways in which parents can approach their children about the topic of drinking." Entitled "'Sin Rodeos' (an idiom that could be translated as 'straight talk')," the video is available for free at area "Blockbuster Video outlets and Los Angeles public and Catholic schools." The program's launch was boosted by "the endorsement of local officials," including Mayor Richard Riordan (R) and U.S. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles). The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America expressed support, as did local sports stars, including former Anaheim Angels player Dave Winfield, who was present at the conference.
No Es Bueno!
However, "some who work on substance abuse issues" were not "impressed" with the program, the Times reports. Eduardo Hernandez, project director of CalPartners Coalition, which promotes statewide substance abuse prevention, said, "What we've seen is a double message being put out by the alcohol industry." He said on the one hand the liquor industry glamorizes alcohol in widespread ad campaigns, many of which target children and minorities, and then launch "smaller campaigns ... to create a good guy image." He said, "It's time for the alcohol industry to be responsible about its marketing, to quit targeting Latinos, youth and communities of color in general with numerous commercials that make alcohol seem appealing." George Hacker, director of the Alcohol Policies Project at the Washington, DC-based Center for Science in the Public Interest, criticized the council's "individual responsibility" emphasis. He said, "[T]he direction is usually focused on the individual who has the problem rather than policy that would change everyone's behavior," he said.
Century Council Director of Ethnic Programs Gabriela Saenz Torres defended her organization's effort and noted that they were independent from the liquor industry. She said that while the campaign would not "solve the problems," it would "give us one more tool to use in the fight against underage drinking and drunk driving." She said "it's the responsibility of the parents and adults who come in contract with the kids to educate them about the dangers of alcohol abuse." Becerra supported the council's mission, saying, "Videos, educational material may not be the only answer. But it's certainly more than what we had before, and I'm not going to knock anything that gets us one step closer" (Boxall, 4/9).