WASHINGTON, D.C. – Just one year after the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) was publicly rebuked by the government and major media organizations for botching statistics on underage drinking, the Distilled Spirits Council today once again challenged CASA’s latest report calling it, “another attempt to manipulate data to get sensational headlines.” “CASA is at it again,” said Dr. Peter H. Cressy, Distilled Spirits President and CEO. “Based on CASA’s flawed methodology, 50 percent of all 12-20 year olds would have to consume 99 drinks per month, which is simply absurd. Illegal underage drinking and alcohol abuse in any amount is a serious problem, but CASA does no one any good by repeatedly playing fast and loose with the data.” In CASA’s latest paper entitled, “Alcohol Consumption and Expenditures for Underage Drinking and Adult Excessive Drinking,” CASA selectively chose and merged drinking estimates from three separate data sources — which even the Federal government states are “hard to compare” — to grossly overestimate the size of the underage drinking problem and created its own broad definition of “excessive drinking” to overestimate the number of adult alcohol abusers. “Rather than rely on the government’s benchmark alcohol consumption data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — the same data source CASA believed was accurate for use in their study last year — CASA manipulated and merged figures from different data sources in order to sensationalize their claims,” said Cressy. “This careless research is not science-based. It is advocacy-based.” Cressy stated that CASA is purposely slanting the facts to meet their own advocacy agenda which includes increasing restrictions on alcohol advertising and raising alcohol taxes. “Rather than pouring millions of dollars into one poor study after another, CASA should join with us in developing and delivering educational programs that will make a difference,” said Cressy. “For decades, the distilled spirits industry has been leaders in the fight against underage drinking, drunk driving and college alcohol abuse. We urge CASA to do the same.” CASA has a long track record of sloppiness and distorting the facts, Cressy noted. Last February, CASA’s horribly botched study on underage drinking resulted in retractions and front page stories detailing CASA’s erroneous claims by major media organizations and a public rebuke by the federal government. In fact, the federal agency, SAMHSA, issued a press release (Feb. 2002) stating that CASA’s blatantly flawed calculations of the government’s data was wrong by a factor of over 100 percent. Former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, in a 1994 press release, also sharply criticized a CASA study for being ‘seriously flawed’ and “misleading.” “In addition to their repeated basic mathematical errors, CASA is also now labeling everyone who has more than two drinks a day an ‘excessive drinker,” said Cressy. CASA based their definition of “excessive drinking” on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines published by the Federal government which defines moderate drinking as no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. “The Dietary Guidelines are important benchmarks for adults who drink, and define optimum levels, however, nowhere in the guidelines does it define ‘excessive drinking’ as more than two drinks per day,” said Cressy. “CASA’s simplistic and broad definition of excessive ignores the well-known scientific fact that alcohol’s affect on each individual differs depending on various factors including body weight, metabolism, the timing of your last meal and the timing and patterns of drinking.” Cressy stressed that the distilled spirits industry does not want underage drinkers or alcohol abusers as customers. He pointed to the efforts of The Century Council, the distilled spirits industry’s not-for-profit organization which has spent more than $120 million over the last 12 years on community programs to reduce illegal, underage drinking. In addition, he stated the distillers are committed to responsible advertising and are proud of their longstanding track record of effective self-regulation. Since 1934, the distillers have voluntarily abided by a Code of Good Practice to ensure that spirits advertising is responsible and directed to adults.