Striking a Balance: Protecting Youth From Overexposure to Alcohol Ads and Allowing Alcohol Companies to Reach the Adult Market

  • July 01, 2005

In September 2003, both the Beer Institute and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States ("DISCUS") finally followed the Federal Trade Commission's 1999 recommendation and announced their members would raise the minimum adult audience composition of media in which they will advertise from a fairly meaningless 50 percent to a proportional 70 percent. This white paper seeks to examine the impact of this 70 percent threshold on reducing underage youth exposure to alcohol advertising. Specifically, the examination asks:

  • how well the industry implemented the 70 percent threshold in the first several months of 2004 and reduced the alcohol advertising that is overexposing underage youth;
  • whether the 70 percent threshold is, in fact, a truly proportional standard when looking at the underage population and the public health epidemic of underage drinking in the United States; and
  • whether another standard offers a more reasonable balance point between reducing underage youth overexposure to alcohol advertising and the alcohol industry's right to advertise its products to the legal-age audience of age 21 and over.