Alcohol Advertising and Youth: a Measured Approach

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Every day in the U.S., 4,750 young people under age 16 have their first full drink of alcohol.(J. Gfroerer, personal communication, September 17, 2007). This is a problem because the earlier young people start drinking, the more likely they are to suffer alcohol-related health and social problems later in life. Compared to those who wait until they are 21 to drink, young people who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependent(Dawson, 1997;9:p.103-110), seven times more likely to be in a motor vehicle crash because of drinking (Hingson, Heeren,Jamanka, Howland, 2001) and 11 times more likely to be in a physical fight after drinking (Hingson, Heeren, Zakocs, 2001p.108(4):872-877). Before the 12th grade, the average child will spend more than 15,000 hours in front of the television, more time than they will spend in school (Strasburger,1992, p.13). During this time, children will watch about 2,000 alcohol related commercials on television each year (Strasburger, p. 144-51). Alcohol advertisements reach youth not only through television, but also through other various media sources including the radio, billboard signs, magazines, sporting venues, and subway signs. In all, children view 45% more beer ads and 27% more liquor ads in magazines than an adult will (Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth,2002) The average annual number of alcohol ads seen by youth watching television increased from 217 in 2001 to 366 in 2009, approximately one alcohol ad per day (Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth,2009). According to the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY), between 2001 and 2007, there were more than 2 million TV ads and 20,000 magazine ads for alcoholic products. CAMY also commissioned Virtual Media Resources to analyze nearly 2.7 million product advertisements placed by alcohol companies from 2001 to 2009, this analysis revealed that alcohol manufacturers invested an estimated cost of more than $8 billion. In...
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