The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the regulatory agency for alcohol products in the United States, the issued a four-part series in their weekly newsletter regarding health-related marketing claims by the alcohol industry. The TTB is a bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury, which regulates and collects taxes on trade and imports of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms within the United States.
People around the world are becoming more health-conscious. This also leads people to increasingly ditch unhealthy products and to switch to consumption of healthier products. This trend is threatening the alcohol industry. Therefore, Big Alcohol has deployed tactics to exploit this trend. For instance, the practice of attaching health-related keywords to alcohol products and alcohol marketing has proliferated across Big Alcohol conglomerates.
Misleading Advertising Practice
But this advertising practice is misleading consumers. Big Alcohol is leading people to think alcohol products with such labels are “healthier” than others. But the truth is all alcohol products are harmful to health.
- Science has consistently proven there is no safe level of alcohol use for health.
- A recent study showed that alcohol directly causes cancer and that no level of alcohol use is safe for cancer risk.
- The World Heart Federation released a policy brief establishing the evidence base that no amount of alcohol is good for the heart.
- A previous study found that there was no safe level of alcohol use for brain health. Even low-dose use was associated with more widespread adverse effects on the brain than previously recognized.
TTB Issues Four-Part Series on Health-Related Alcohol Marketing Claims
The TTB issued the four-part series as guidance to curb this latest “health marketing” strategy of the alcohol industry.
According to the series, the guidance was issued in response to:
[An] increasing number of alcohol beverage advertisements […] suggesting a relationship between alcohol beverage consumption and purported health benefits or effects.”Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
The TTB reminds the alcohol industry that it is prohibited to make any health-related statement in advertising that is (1) untrue or (2) tends to create a misleading impression of the effects of alcohol consumption on health.
In the series, the TTB provided examples of prohibited advertising used by the alcohol industry which promotes that a certain alcohol product will mitigate health effects that are usually associated with alcohol use. Examples include:
- “No headaches”
- “Hangover free”
- “Diabetic friendly”.
The TTB also provided examples of prohibited advertising which promote health benefits of alcohol products. Examples include:
- “Recovery drink”
- “Health benefits”.
The TTB specifically focused on the use of the word “clean” on alcoholic products. TTB alerts consumers that if an alcoholic product uses the term “clean” that it should not be interpreted as suggesting a product is organic or has met any other production standard set by TTB.
Whether the term “clean” is allowed to use for marketing of an alcoholic product will depend on the entire label/statement.
- If the word “clean” is used to describe the taste of a beverage it could be allowed.
- However, if the word “clean” is used to suggest consuming a certain product will have health benefits or mitigate health risks due to alcohol it is prohibited.
The TTB ended the series by reminding the industry that making untrue or misleading health-related claims when advertising alcohol products is prohibited in the United States.
TTB advertising regulations prohibit any health-related statement that is untrue in any particular or tends to create a misleading impression as to the effects of alcohol consumption on health,” stated the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, as per Alcohol Law Advisor.Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
Beverage Daily: “TTB warns brands over use of ‘clean’ descriptor with alcohol beverages“
Alcohol Law Advisor: “TTB Issues Four-Part Series on Health-Related Alcohol Marketing Claims“