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-by Bill Watkins, alcoholic

I am writing as a plea to lawmakers and media outlets to urgently consider a ban on alcohol advertising for the good of our country.  The FTC allows alcohol’s self-regulating industry to pitch flammable liquid as drink to 28.4 percent under-21 viewership, making OUR CHILDREN collateral damage in this fight.  Alcohol as “drink” is more vice than product, responsible for the death of over 88,000 people a year in this country, third on the list of prevalent preventable killers in the U.S., after smoking and lifestyle.

Alcohol is a killer.  It almost killed me, and has killed many friends of mine.  I started drinking the toxin on my dad’s lap at age five, his last sip of bourbon.  Alcohol has been slapped together as a buddy to sports, sports watching and being a sports fan, gambling a neighbor to those.  But of those various activities only alcohol directly kills.  And yet we allow these ads to continue, pitching children; pitching alcoholics like me!  I worked hard to overcome this disease, checked out of the hospitals, went to Alcoholics Anonymous and got sober, ONLY TO COME HOME AND GET PITCHED ALCOHOL WHILE I WATCH MY FAVORITE SPORTS TEAMS AND ATHLETES COMPETE ON TELEVISION.

What kind of world allows this?  Richard Nixon had a mountain of faults and committed crimes in office, but even he saw the value in curbing killer cigarettes in 1970, banning their TV and radio ads by signing a congressional ban.  It seems that since the insanity of Prohibition, alcohol is getting a free pass to self-regulate and kill at will, even green-lit to pitch to an under-21 audience.  Disgusting.  Wrong.  When will we stand up against alcohol as the extremely flawed President Nixon was able to do with cigarettes?  Please stand with me to renounce alcohol ads and to remove them from our children’s viewing Today.

NO CHILD OR ALCOHOLIC SHOULD EVER SEE A SINGLE ALCOHOL AD.  Refute that statement and you should be stripped of your position as legislator or media programmer.  And the NCAA?  Shame is the muck in which you conspire with TV networks to make money off our often under-21 year old athletes, students and fans by SELLING A VOLATILE, FLAMMABLE, TOXIC LIQUID.  The shame could end today with an immediate study of alcohol injuries, deaths, which will surely lead to a rational choice to ban their ads immediately from our televisions.

A few years after my first alcoholic missteps with Dad, I began drinking the poison at age twelve with friends, started blacking out on the substance at age thirteen, all the while dreaming of being a professional athlete, alcohol ads on my television assuring me that this was all okay.  Alcohol has no part in sports, is a dream-killer, says the sports dropout and two-time overdose loser writing this letter today.  Yes, my experiments in the liquid intoxicant turned into depression eventually, a suicidal one that had me whining at doctors until they gave me (irresponsibly) drugs on which I could and did overdose twice.

Barely alive with injuries from the OD’s and 100 percent regret for ever having a single sip of fermentation’s perverse result, I ask us all to rethink our own drink and take alcohol off our airways immediately for the good and health of this country.  Our kids deserve better.  And you, sirs and ladies, should know better.  I love you.  Love and its free expression has come to me in sobriety; may the Higher Power unto which you pray and believe take you to the realization I have had that alcohol ads should be now and forever banned.  Alcohol itself and its sales should not be banned.  Who wants another crazy Prohibition?

But alcohol ads must and should be banned immediately, if we want a proper world and safe TV room in which our children can play and watch their favorite athletes play in peace and safety.

Love and Peace
William “Bill” Watkins
Alcoholic, Poet, Humorist
3920 Hawley Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90032