CAMY, which is supported by grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, compared the “responsibility” ads placed by the alcohol industry on television between 2001 and 2003 to televised alcohol product ads from the same time period. The comparison was done in terms of number, cost, placement on television programs, and audiences exposed. “Responsibility” ads have as their primary focus a message about drinking responsibly, not drinking and driving, or not drinking before the legal age of 21.
Between 2001 and 2003, 78% of underage youth between the ages of 12 and 20 saw television ads purchased by alcohol companies to discourage underage drinking. Yet, on average, they saw only nine of these ads over the entire three-year period.
In comparison, 91% of 12- to 20-year-olds saw an average of 779 product ads selling alcohol over the same time period. Alcohol company “responsibility” ads about drunk driving and safety fared slightly better than underage drinking ads, with 82% of youth seeing an average of 20 alcohol company ads about drinking safely or not drinking and driving.
“The alcohol industry's warnings to our kids not to drink until they are 21 are buried under an avalanche of alcohol ads that glamorize drinking,” said Dr. David Jernigan, CAMY research director. “This imbalance undermines the efforts of parents and teachers to warn our children against underage drinking.”
Other key findings from the report include:
Alcohol is the number-one drug problem among youth and is responsible for more than 4,500 deaths per year of people under age 21. A federally funded national media campaign was the central recommendation of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine's 2003 report to Congress on reducing underage drinking. Congress has appropriated some funding to an ad campaign from the Advertising Council, and legislation introduced in February would also encourage such a campaign.
“Congress has recognized that our children need to be told the truth about underage drinking,” said Jim O'Hara, CAMY executive director. “Now it's time for the public health agencies to step up to the plate.”
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About the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University monitors the marketing practices of the alcohol industry to focus attention and action on industry practices that jeopardize the health and safety of America's youth. The Center is supported by grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. More information on the Center and a full text of this report can be found at www.camy.org.