Addiction Researchers Calling for Regulation of Alcohol Ads

Posted on June 9th, 2009
Posted in Alcohol Abuse

As new research shows that more alcohol ads are targeting adolescents, addiction specialists are calling for tighter regulation of alcohol advertising. Conducted in Australia, the research found that adolescents in the five major cities saw nearly as much television advertising as 18 to 24 year olds, and that underage teens in one city were actually exposed to more advertising than those of legal drinking age.

The research also found that the most exposed alcohol ads contained at least one element known to appeal to children and adolescents, such as animated characters, animals, simple humorous storylines, and pop music. The Australian alcohol industry’s code of conduct specifically states that alcohol advertising must not include strong or evident appeal to children and adolescents.

Previous studies have concluded that the more alcohol advertising young people are exposed to, the more likely they are to drink. In the United States, more than 4,600 young people under the legal drinking age of 21 die because of alcohol-related injuries and accidents every year.

“Clearly self-regulation is not working to protect young people from exposure to alcohol advertising,” said Dr. David Jernigan, an alcohol policy and public health expert who calls for the strengthening of standards for alcohol advertisers in his commentary on the research. “Ongoing monitoring and greater restriction on when these ads can air are needed to safeguard our youth,” he said.

The authors of the study suggest banning alcohol advertising during live sports programming, further restricting the times at which alcohol ads can be broadcast, and banning animals and animal characters from alcohol advertising, except in cases where an animals has traditionally been part of the brand’s logo.

"The marketing and communications industries are fully aware of execution elements that are attractive to children and young teens – that’s part of their job,” said co-author Professor Donovcan. “It should not be part of their job to use that knowledge, or allow it to be used, in alcohol advertising that children and teens are exposed to.”
 

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