Alcohol Advertising to Youth
Many people are unaware of the prevalence of underage drinking in the United States. Every day in the United States, more than 4,750 kids under age 16 have their first full drink of alcohol. More youth in the United States drink alcohol than smoke tobacco or marijuana, making it the drug most used by American young people. Youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependency or abuse in their lifetime than those who begin drinking at 21 years or later. All of these facts were published by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. They have published many reports on the prevalence of drinking among underage youth. But why do underage youth start drinking alcohol in the first place? According to many studies, alcohol advertising is the main influencer of alcohol consumption among underage youth. Alcohol advertising influences the use of alcohol among youth and increases the likelihood that they will consume alcohol illegally. For example, a study published in 2006 found that for each additional alcohol ad a young person saw (above the monthly youth average of 23), he or she drank one percent more. Also, for every additional dollar spent on alcohol advertising in a local market, underage drinkers consumed three percent more alcohol (Surgeon General, 2007). Because young children are likely to be influenced by alcohol advertisements, there needs to be stricter regulations on the advertising industries ability to advertise alcohol to underage youth. According to the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking (2007), “The short-and long-term consequences that arise from underage alcohol consumption are astonishing in their range and magnitude, affecting adolescents, the people around them, and society as a whole.” Therefore, there should be a stricter regulation on alcohol advertising to youth because of the strong influence it has on their behavior and their alcohol consumption patterns. Each year, the alcohol industry spends more than four billion dollars marketing its products (Mosher & Cohen, 2012). There have been multiple studies that have correlated underage youth exposure with a greater likelihood of drinking. It is imperative that the government or advertising industry reduces the impact of alcohol marketing on young people. Reducing underage drinking, like smoking, is an important public health goal (Mosher & Cohen, 2012). Public health departments in California, Massachusetts, and Florida have made crucial strides in reducing underage smoking rates in their states (Mosher & Cohen, 2012). They did this my sponsoring tobacco counter advertising campaigns. This indicates that this type of approach may be effective for reducing underage drinking as well (Mosher & Cohen, 2012). The problem with this for alcohol advertising is that there are already responsibility ads, but they are outnumbered by alcohol ads 226-1 (CAMY News Release, 2004). Alcohol product advertising has increased significantly in recent years, while responsibility ads have decreased. According to a new study from CAMY at Georgetown University, the number of responsibility ads dropped by 46 percent from 2001 levels, while the number of alcohol commercials increased by 39 percent. Industry spending on responsibility ads also fell—down 57 percent from 2001. This is unacceptable. According to CAMY Executive Director, Jim O’Hara, “This minimal amount of responsibility advertising does little to reinforce the message of parents and teachers who are trying to prevent underage drinking. Our children need to receive a more balanced message about alcohol.” According to the same study, for every dollar spent on responsibility ads in 2002, the industry spent $99 on product ads, where in 2001, the ratio was $1 to $35. Alcohol companies should be required to sponsor a certain amount of responsibility ads each year, that is relative to the number of...
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