US: DISCUS defends self-regulatory code

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The Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), the US spirits trade association, has refuted claims by the Marin Institute that self-regulation is not working.
Joan 'Jodie' Bernstein, formerly director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection and now an external advisor to the DISCUS Code and Code Review Board, said: "It [the code] has several public benefits and has carved the path for responsible corporate citizenship. 
"Among these benefits that set the distilled spirits industry apart, is that the Distilled Spirits Council was the first industry trade group that I am aware of that published transparent reports on the disposition of advertising complaints."
Her comments came after a report by the California-based Marin Institute last week attacked alcohol companies in the US for failing to provide an adequate complaint system for advertising in the country.
Bernstein added: "DISCUS members and non-members voluntarily adhere to a rigorous set of standards against which they are regularly measured. The comprehensive provisions of the DISCUS Code cover conduct that people care about and that the Government cannot and does not address due to the First Amendment and other constraints."
Bernstein also suggested that the self-regulatory system is quicker in responding to specific complaints and technological developments than official regulators. 
The Marin Institute report had suggested that alcohol companies with representation on the DISCUS board had a three times lower chance of their advert being found in violation of the code, and that it was the "quintessential example of the fox guarding the hen house".
The Marin Institute is a pressure group that campaigns for tighter regulation of the alcohol industry and higher taxes. In its mission statement, it states that it "envisions communities free of the alcohol industry's negative influence" and "fights to protect the public from the impact of the alcohol industry's negative practices".

Sectors: Spirits

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