Researcher Finds Alcohol Industry Still Targeting Kids

A new study indicates that, despite the alcohol industry's promise to do a better job limiting young people's exposure to its marketing efforts, the amount of alcohol advertising that is reaching youth continues to rise.

The report from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at Georgetown University finds that between 2001 and 2003, the exposure of kids to alcohol advertising grew by 17 percent. During that same time period, alcohol ads on TV increased from 208,000 to 298,000. David Jernigan, research director for the Center, says regardless of the alcohol trade's commitments to address the problem, the public is seeing more of the same from the industry.

“Much of this growth was driven by an increase in ads for hard liquor, for distilled spirits, particularly on cable,” Jernigan says. “Where in 2001 distilled spirits companies put about 500 ads on cable, in 2003 they had 33,000 ads on cable.”

The Center's researchers found that the alcohol industry spent more than $30 million to place advertisements on TV shows that have large teen audiences. The study reveals that all 15 of the TV shows most popular with teenagers carried alcohol ads.

Jernigan says during such programs, alcohol ads simply should not be aired. “They just don't belong, for instance, on Smallville — which is about Superman when he was young — or Everwood, or Seventh Heaven, or One Tree Hill,” he asserts. “If the industry were to adopt a policy that they wouldn't put their ads on programs that were more likely to be watched by kids than by adults, it would reduce youth exposure substantially.”

But while the researcher feels the TV networks are partly to blame for the increase in youth-targeting alcohol ads, he says the broadcasters are not solely at fault. At the end of the day, Jernigan insists, responsibility lies squarely on the alcohol companies to clean up their act.

In 2003, the Federal Trade Commission applauded the alcohol industry for tightening its codes in an effort to expose fewer young people to alcohol ads. However, according to Jernigan, he has found virtually no change in the alcohol companies' advertising practices since they supposedly changed their behavior.

See also:

CAMY Report: “Alcohol Advertising on Television, 2001 to 2003: More of the Same

(This article courtesy of Agape Press).

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