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Diageo Applauds Governor and California Legislature on Efforts to Combat Underage Drinking

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Diageo (NYSE:DEO), the world's leading spirits, wine and beer company, applauded Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California legislature following the passage of legislation aimed at combating underage drinking. The bill, AB 1658, increases penalties for adults who provide alcohol to those under the legal drinking age. Following months of committee hearings and legislative debate, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed AB 1658 into law earlier this week.

AB 1658 increases the legal consequences associated with providing alcohol to a minor, moving the punishment from community service to imprisonment. The bill also increases the existing fines these individuals incur. Earlier this year, Diageo called publicly for all alcohol policy organizations to join it in supporting this important piece of legislation that directly addresses an important social objective.

"The fight against underage drinking and all alcohol abuse is a subject on which The Marin Institute and Diageo agree. Despite its unwillingness to publicly join with us in supporting AB 1658, which will have a real and meaningful impact on reducing underage access to alcohol, The Marin Institute should reexamine its real mission: is it to fight underage access and alcohol abuse, or just abuse hard-working retailers who legally sell alcohol to adults? Instead of simply trading in tired bromides about flavored malt beverages, we encourage a serious dialogue about addressing the underage access issue with workable and realistic solutions. As always, we remain open to positive and sincere dialogue designed to address the problem and not simply mask a secret tax increase that won't address the problem yet will punish small retailers and adult consumers all over the State of California," said Guy L. Smith, Executive Vice President, Diageo.

An industry leader in its commitment to promoting responsible drinking, Diageo has led the passage of similar legislation in other states to fight underage drinking by suspending the driver's license of adults who knowingly furnish alcohol to those under 21. Bills have been introduced in more than 20 states.

Research shows that adults are by far the main source of alcohol for underage drinkers. The Century Council, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, found that 65% of underage drinkers get their alcohol from family and adult friends. A report to Congress by the National Academy of Sciences identified friends and adult purchasers as the most frequent sources of alcohol among college students and older adolescents. Family members were cited as the most frequent source for younger adolescents.

"It is important for us to consider what real solutions are out there to eliminate underage drinking and AB 1658 is a step in the right direction," Smith said. "Diageo is grateful to work with many within the alcohol industry and other groups concerned about underage access to alcohol."

Other supporters of AB 1658 included the California Licensed Beverage Association California State Sheriffs Association, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Tavern Owners United for Fairness.

About Diageo

Diageo (Dee-AH-Gee-O) is the world's leading premium drinks business with an outstanding collection of beverage alcohol brands across spirits, wines, and beer categories. These brands include Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Smirnoff, J&B, Baileys, Cuervo, Tanqueray, Captain Morgan, Crown Royal, Beaulieu Vineyard and Sterling Vineyards wines.

Diageo is a global company, trading in more than 180 countries around the world. The company is listed on both the New York Stock Exchange (DEO) and the London Stock Exchange (DGE). For more information about Diageo, its people, brands, and performance, visit us at http://www.diageo.com/.

Celebrating life, every day, everywhere, responsibly.

Source: Diageo

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