Beer should be considered a drug, according to the chairman of the Alcohol Policy Coalition.

The newly formed group wants to reduce the availability of beer by appropriate regulation of the place, time and manner of its sale, said Dr. George Van Komen, coalition chairman. The group has targeted beer sales at gas stations as a concern."We will also encourage a reduction in the promotion of alcoholic beverages through restrictions on alcohol advertisements, especially those targeting our youths," Van Komen said.

"Our goal is to have beer generally recognized, not only as an alcoholic beverage but also as a drug, as it is viewed by the American Medical Association."

He describes the organization, which made a presentation Wednesday before the Citizens Council on Alcoholic Beverage Control, as a group of individuals committed to enhancing public and individual well-being by decreasing the health, safety and social problems associated with the consumption of alcohol.

According to a fact sheet distributed by the coalition, beer is not usually considered a problem drug because of its availability and its heavy promotion. In reality, the statement said, beer is perhaps the most abused and most destructive drug of all.

Beer is the most diluted form of alcohol, yet more than half of the pure ethyl alcohol consumed in the country is consumed in the form of beer. And by the time an American youth turns 18, he will have seen some 100,000 TV commercials for beer, a product he can't legally consume.