CHICAGO – Microsoft said it would pull advertisements for alcohol-related gifts for college students from its MSN Internet service, following criticism from the American Medical Association.
A book of beer drinking games, a microbrew kit and other party products had been promoted on MSN among back-to-school care packages for homesick college students.
On Aug. 24, the AMA sent a letter to MSN executives saying it seemed "extremely misguided" to call such items care packages because of the dangers associated with underage drinking.
An MSN spokeswoman said Wednesday that MSN is careful to make sure products are marketed to appropriate audiences.
"In this case it appears as though an error was made, and we are taking the necessary steps to remove the products," said the spokeswoman, who cited Microsoft policy that she not be identified by name.
A book of beer drinking games was still listed Wednesday morning, along with chocolate cookies, makeup and "Monty Python's Flying Circus" DVD sets. The book had disappeared from the care package section by early afternoon, along with the microbrew kit.
Any delay, she said, was related to a schedule for updating the Web site. "MSN in no way condones underage drinking," she said.
The AMA letter, from Dr. J. Edward Hill, chairman-elect of the Chicago-based AMA's board of trustees, said marketing the alcohol-related gifts with other care packages "perpetuates the belief that society winks at underage drinking, viewing it as a coming of age ritual and not as a dangerous activity with legal and life-changing consequences."
Hill cited an upcoming AMA national poll showing that 95 percent of parents are very concerned about high-risk drinking on campus. He also cited public health data that show nearly one in four college students is at risk of suffering alcohol-related harms, including sexual assault and other violence.