Alcohol companies are facing economic fears in the wake of Turkey's new law banning alcohol advertising, which President Abdullah Gul signed into place yesterday. Turkish liquor company Yeni Raki ran a newspaper ad showing a hand shaking a glass of alcohol with the words: “Ads are over. Excuse us.” The most recent ad for Turkey’s Efes beer features an unmarked brown bottle and the cryptic message: “Even if we don’t see each other, we’ll know.” Paul Skehan, the director general for distiller trade association spiritsEUROPE, laments that "this law was rushed through at supersonic speeds and there was no consultation of any of the industries affected." The law, which also limits sales of alcohol and even blurs out depictions of drinking on TV, has furthered general unrest in the country, fueling massive protests calling for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's resignation. But Erdogan defends the law, which he says is designed to improve the nation's health and is in line with the 2008 bans on smoking in coffee houses and restaurants. “We did not ban alcohol; we just introduced a new framework," he said last month. "We want to raise a healthy generation." Erdogan has since declared ayran, a salty yogurt drink, to be the national beverage in lieu of the anise-flavored spirit, raki.
The World Health Organization says Turkey's average annual consumption of alcohol is already moderate at 3.4 liters per capita—just above half the global average. And many are skeptical that the ad-ban will even have any impact on drinking in Turkey. “Ad bans are not the way to make people drink less,” says Dominic Lyle, director general of the European Association of Communications Agencies in Brussels. The restrictions are “very much a political move and linked to the views of the government. It’s more about secular versus religious.” Diageo, the world's biggest distiller and home to brands such as Johnnie Walker whiskey and Captain Morgan rum, says in a statement that a “collaborative approach among the industry, government, and third parties would lead to a better outcome.” The Turkish Association of Advertising Agencies declined to comment, because of “deep tension” with the government.
Good Charlotte singer Joel Madden has opened up on his blog about getting busted with illegal herb in Australia. While staying in Sydney to film the Australian version of The Voice, the 34-year-old was kicked out of his hotel after a housekeeper discovered small amounts (fewer than 5 grams) of weed in his room. Though no charges were filed, the star has addressed the incident on his personal blog. "Sunday while I was at work, a hotel employee found a small amount of marijuana in my hotel room. The police were called and responded," he writes. "Sydney is my adopted home and I appreciate the way the NSW police handled the situation. They have informed me there will be no charges. I hope this didn't cause too much drama for anyone." Though the investigation continues, Madden was not charged because Australian law issues only a warning for small amounts of drugs. But the singer was asked to immediately leave the hotel after the search, in accordance with hotel policy. "He was not afforded any special treatment and he's moved out," says a spokesman for Echo Entertainment, which oversees the casino/hotel where he was staying. Madden is married to Nicole Richie, and they have two children together.
- Walgreens to Pay $80 Million for Drug License Violations [USA Today]
- US State Department Officials in "Sex and Drugs Scandal" [BBC]
- Goldman Accepted 15,000 Bottles of Fine Wine as Loan Collateral [Business Insider]
- Why Strychnine Was An Early Performance-Enchancing Drug [io9]
- Study Finds Festivalgoers Prefer Drugs, Alcohol and Sex to Live Music [Fuse]
- Seth Rogen's Vice: Smoking Weed, Eating Hamburgers [USA Today]
- 'Naked, Spitting, Pissing' Man Goes on Acrobatic Rampage In SF Metro Station [Gawker]
In an editorial in The Huffington Post today, Cameron Douglas, currently serving a 9.5-year prison sentence for drug crimes, calls for reform of the criminal justice system's treatment of addicts. "There are half a million [non-violent drug offenders] in the US who, like me, will go to sleep behind bars tonight because of nothing more than a drug law violation," writes Douglas, 34, who has served 2 years of his sentencing in solitary confinement. The son of actor Michael Douglas was initially sentenced to five years in 2009 for selling methamphetamine; 4.5 years were then added to his sentence last year, after heroin and Suboxone were found in his prison cell. At the time, the Drug Policy Alliance and a group of leading addiction experts fought to appeal this increase—one of the harshest penalties ever recorded for drug possession in prison. "Punishing Douglas for using opiates in prison, while denying him treatment, is tantamount to punishing a diabetic for insulin possession," wrote The Fix's Maia Szalavitz. "Typically, prisoners caught with drugs are punished with loss of privileges like visits and phone calls, not a doubling of their initial sentence."
In his letter, Douglas criticizes the "outdated" criminal justice system for "paying little, if any, concern to the disease of addiction, and instead [punishing] it more harshly than many violent crimes." He argues that incarcerating addicts "does absolutely nothing but temporarily deter them from succumbing to their weakness" and calls on lawmakers and other people of influence to "find the courage to fight for change." Douglas admits his own transgressions and says he doesn't deserve "special treatment." "I'm not saying that I didn't deserve to be punished," he writes, "I made mistakes and I'll gladly and openly admit my faults. However, I seem to be trapped in a vicious cycle of relapse and repeat, as most addicts are."
An editorial in the The Canadian Medical Association Journal has stirred controversy by suggesting that alcohol labels come with a warning—specifically for young girls. According to a recent study, girls in their teens are now drinking as much as teen boys—or even more. As a response, Dr. Ken Flagel, the editorial's author, argues that alcohol "is not an equal-opportunity substance," and therefore should be regulated more strictly for girls. He proposes that the government should require a "health warning to accompany alcohol advertising aimed at young women as well as on the products sold." Among his arguments, he states that women have an average lower body mass than men and therefore get drunk more quickly. He also points that advertising has been found to exert greater influence on girls than boys. But most controversially, Flagel makes the claim that another "risk" of drinking is that it makes women more vulnerable to sexual assault, saying: "Female-specific risks are already well known and include violence, unwanted sex and pregnancy.” The statement has been criticized as "victim blaming," and Jezebel's Callie Buesman writes: “How many times will be have to be [sic] dumbfounded by the clearly misogynistic logic that 'getting too drunk' = 'an open invitation to be raped or harassed'?” As a tongue-in-cheek response, Buesman offers up a list of other suggested "warning labels" for alcohol ads and products, including: "WARNING: Over-consuming alcohol may cause you to attempt to insert yourself into the live performance of a screamo band covering Ke$ha songs."
Money can't buy happiness, but can it buy sobriety? Elite addicts like Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen have paid big bucks for the luxury of hiring "sober companions" to help them steer clear of their former vices. And now the trend is growing among wealthy New York executives in recovery, the New York Post reports. These sober companions work mainly undercover—so that their clients may save face—and their around-the-clock duties may include personal assistant, bodyguards, researchers and drivers. Sober companion Chuck Kanner recalls one of his former clients, a multi-millionaire digital technology bigwig, "sitting there [meeting] with people like Bill Clinton, Rudolph Giuliani and Mario Cuomo, spaced out, and I'd be saying: 'Dude, this is not okay!'" Sixty percent of investment bankers suffer “serious stress,” according to research from the University of Pennsylvania, and increasing numbers are abusing illegal and prescription drugs.To capitalize on rising consumer demand, Dunes Rehab Center in the Hamptons has established an Executive Treatment Program at the cost of $50,000-80,000 per month, which allows clients to leave the site with their undercover assistants in order to continue their day job. “These guys can’t possibly conceive of burying themselves away somewhere for 30, 60, 90 days,” says Dunes founder Joe McKinsey. “They have empires to run.” Of course, the arrangement is not foolproof; sober companion Peter Downing says a Hamptons real estate mogul he once worked for disappeared and went off on a two-day bender. When the client returned, prostitutes and a drug dealer appeared at the door demanding money. He recalls: "I told them to scram."