- August 5 - The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) goofed when it
chose NASCAR driver Jimmy Spencer to carry its anti-drug message to America's
youth, since both Spencer and NASCAR have lucrative deals pushing beer. That,
according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), is
the latest in a series of missteps by so-called "Drug Czar" John Walters,
whose agency has come under fire for leaving alcohol off its anti-drug agenda.
"As beer promoters, Jimmy Spencer and NASCAR are the wrong messengers,"
said George Hacker, director of CSPI's Alcohol Policies Project. "They're
no better than the Budweiser frogs as anti-drug spokesmen. It really shows that
the drug czar has a blind spot when it comes to booze."
A recent ONCDP brochure touting the office's outreach to the auto racing world
actually pictured Spencer's race car emblazoned with the familiar "Bud"
logo. Spencer's web site has photos of the driver wearing a Bud hat and posing
behind cases of Busch beer. Only a couple of mouse clicks separate Spencer's shot-glass
sales from his anti-drug links. Other drivers, like Rusty Wallace and Sterling
Martin, plug Miller and Coors, respectively. NASCAR has a $7.5 million sponsorship
deal with Busch beer.
In a letter today to Walters, CSPI's Hacker wrote that ONDCP's anti-drug message
is compromised by NASCAR's beer deals, which include omnipresent beer logos even
on kid-friendly items like caps and toy cars.
"When we tried to get alcohol included in ONDCP's ad campaign, this wasn't
exactly what we had in mind," Hacker said.
The Center for Science
in the Public Interest (CSPI) is a nonprofit health-advocacy group based in Washington,
D.C., that focuses on nutrition, food safety, and pro-health alcohol policies.
CSPI is supported largely by the 800,000 U.S. and Canadian subscribers to its
Nutrition Action Healthletter and by foundation grants.