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Beware those menacing Super Bowl commercials!

Jan 21, 2003 5:44 AM

Las Vegas continues its reign as the Rodney Dangerfield of American cities. The latest slap in the face came from the NFL, which last week rejected the city’s request to advertise during the upcoming Super Bowl.

The rejection should come as no surprise. The league has a long-standing policy against sports betting, gambling, original sin and everything else falling under the heading of "fun," even though such a policy is unfair, archaic and hypocritical.

But if the NFL is so concerned about the image of its precious Super Bowl, as well as the deleterious effects of messages delivered by its advertisers, perhaps it should have been more vigilant in screening other advertisers.

For instance, the Super Bowl’s top advertiser is Anheuser-Busch, which will flood the game with more than five minutes of commercials for Budweiser and Bud Light.

Of course, advertising beer to an audience containing a large segment of children and teenagers is acceptable, right? Not according to MADD — Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

MADD reports that beer is the alcoholic "drink of choice in most cases of heavy drinking, binge drinking, drunk driving and underage drinking."

Moreover, according to MADD, young people consume about 1.1 billion cans of beer annually, or about 10 percent of all beer sold in the U.S., making it the number one drug problem among young people.

So, when that first Budweiser commercial opens the game — a coveted spot that Anheuser-Busch paid dearly for — with its comedy, cutesy animals and eye-catching effects, keep in mind that more than 1,400 college students will die, 500,000 will be injured, 70,000 will be sexually assaulted and 400,000 will engage in unprotected sex while under the influence of alcohol this year.

Thank you, NFL.

But Anheuser-Busch isn’t the only Super Bowl advertiser who will air commercials that could be hazardous to your health.

AT&T Wireless has scheduled at least three Super Bowl spots, most likely to hype its line of cellular phones.

Of course, cell phones are such an everyday part of American life there’s no reason not to hype them, is there?

Not according to the American Automobile Association, which lists cell phones among the distractions that cause accidents.

In addition, Dr. George Carlo, who was hired by the cell phone industry in 1993 to study the safety of its product, reports in his book, "Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age," about the possible dangers posed by microwave radiation from cell phones.

Those dangers include: disruption of pacemakers, penetration of the developing skulls of young children, compromise of the blood brain barrier and genetic damage that is a known diagnostic marker for cancer.

Thank you, NFL.

The Super Bowl’s third largest advertiser is Pepsi-Cola, which will run commercials for the 18th straight year. This year, Pepsi is planning to hype two new products: Lemon Twist, a lemon-flavored version of Pepsi-Cola, and Sierra Mist, a lemon-lime rival to 7-Up.

Now, there’s something we all need — more soft drinks. Well, here are some hard facts about soft drinks.

First, Americans drink twice as many soft drinks today as they did 25 years ago — about 56 gallons a year, or nearly two cans a day for every man, woman and child.

Carbonated soft drinks are the single largest source of refined sugar in the American diet (each can contains about 8-12 teaspoons of sugar). And refined sugar has been linked to a weakened immune system, unbalanced nutrition and extra calories — those two cans a day could result in an extra pound of fat after 12 days, or an extra 30 pounds in a year!

Soft drinks also contain potential health hazards such as caffeine, phosphoric acid, chemical colorings, flavorings and preservatives.

Thank you, NFL.

Levi Strauss celebrates its 150th anniversary with Super Bowl ads touting its high-end Type 1 blue jeans.

Let’s hope those hip-huggers don’t hug too tightly. Because, according to Women’s Day magazine, if squeezing into blue jeans that are too snug is a hazard, then 99 percent of the female population is at risk.

"Tight pants syndrome" is an actual diagnose for persons experiencing bloating, heartburn and abdominal discomfort. (And I thought it was the stadium hot dogs!)

Thank you, NFL.

There are other Super Bowl advertisers that viewers should be wary of:

”¡ Visa USA: The credit card bills itself as being "Everywhere you want to be." But do we need more credit cards when we’re already knee-deep in debt?

Americans owe more than $700 billion dollars in credit card debt, which amounts to about $8,000 in bills per household.

Moreover, credit card fraud, especially on the Internet, has reached epidemic proportions.

”¡ Sony’s Playstation: Sony will probably sell millions of its video games, but about one in 4,000 could trigger a seizure in some players, especially children.

According to Knight-Ridder Newspapers, a video game’s bright flashes and patterns could set off an electrical storm of brain signals that may cause involuntary body movements, involuntary oral or visual responses, and even blackouts.

”¡ McDonalds: A Big Mac has about 590 calories. Throw in the french fries and a milk shake and you’re on a collision course with obesity.

”¡ Trident Sugarless Gum: Accidentally swallowing chewing gum can cause adverse health effects, including diarrhea, abdominal pain, flatulence, mouth ulcers and dental and jaw problems, according to the Nemours Children’s Clinic in Orlando, Florida.

The pediatricians also point out that chewing gum can block the esophagus and colon.

”¡ Warner Brothers: The movie studio plans two new releases during the Super Bowl — Terminator 3 and Matrix Reloaded.

In case you’ve forgotten, Terminator 3 is the sequel to two of the most violent motion pictures ever released.

Not to be outdone, Matrix Reloaded follows on the heels of the Matrix, which inspired the Trench Coat Mafia and the worst school shooting in American history.

There are more Super Bowl commercials that could be scrutinized, but why nit pick.

There’s one product, however, that should be advertised, but will never see the bright light of TV broadcasting. And that’s the remote control-like device that can block out all commercials, rendering the TV screen blank.

But the NFL could never allow a commercial for a product that actually benefited the viewer.

Thank you, NFL.