Booze Ads Tell Kids, "Drink Irresponsibly"

By May Wilkerson 08/13/12

Alcohol ads aimed at younger readers are more likely to violate industry standards, research suggests.

Ad for Blast-45 malt beverage, featuring
"Snoop Lion."
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Alcohol marketers go to extreme lengths to reach kids, new research suggests, and their ads are more likely to violate industry standards in magazines that have younger readers. Researchers at the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at Johns Hopkins University examined 1,261 common ads for alcoholic drinks in 11 magazines with sizable youth readerships (at least 15%). They found these ads more likely to showcase "irresponsible drinking" behaviors, such as boozing on or near bodies of water, underage drinking, overconsumption and addiction. And nearly one in five of the ads contained sexual connotations or objectification. "The bottom line here is that youth are getting hit repeatedly by ads for spirits and beer in magazines geared towards their age demographic," says CAMY director and study co-author David Jernigan. "As at least 14 studies have found that the more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising and marketing, the more likely they are to drink, or if already drinking, to drink more, this report should serve as a wake-up call to parents and everyone else concerned about the health of young people."  This isn't the first time the billion-dollar booze industry has come under fire for targeting young people. But despite pressure to adhere to self-enforced standards—or raise them—it seems no adjustments have been made. Alcohol is responsible for 4,700 deaths per year among under-21s, says CAMY, and is associated with the three leading causes of death in this age-group: vehicle accidents, homicide and suicide.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.