Alcohol Advertisement and Underage Drinking

Alcohol advertising is legal. It is something that is seen every where, from billboards to commercials on TV, to ads in magazines. Movies and shows glorify that of drinking, especially in college and underage students. Movies like Project X and more recently Booksmart show off the joys of drinking. As much as alcohol has become a staple of society, how much is it affecting underage people to drink?

Studies have found that for each additional alcohol advertisement over the average of 23 per day, a child or adolescent is 1% more likely to drink and for every additional dollar spent on advertising, children are 3% more likely to drink. An additional study showed that students in middle school who were watching more television and movies that showed drinking were more likely to drink themselves, and were more likely to binge drink (having 3 or more drinks in one sitting). Further, a study found that owning and wearing alcohol branded apparel was significantly associated with drinking later on.

Youth are drawn to what they know. Alcohol is already seen as a rite of passage by a lot of family members and friends of young adults and children therefore not being taken seriously. By advertising alcohol and putting the name of different brands out, youth are more aware of what types of alcohol are available and the trends show that youth are drinking more when they are exposed to the advertisements on a more frequent basis.

So, if studies show that alcohol advertisements, regardless of where the advertisements are, how come it is still legal to advertise? In January of 1971, Big Tobacco was no longer allowed to advertise tobacco products with these guidelines getting stricter in 1998. Tobacco was bad and advertisers were engaging young people in order to gain life long users, so the government stepped in. Why, then, is alcohol not treated on the same wave length? Alcohol companies should be limited in who they are able to reach in advertisements. Further, movies and television should be mindful, especially in G and PG rated ones, in showing alcohol.

Additional studies have found that reducing alcohol advertising significantly reduces use in under age individuals. By completely banning alcohol advertising, such as what was done with big tobacco, would result in the largest reduction of underage drinking. Ultimately, reducing or banning alcohol advertisements would save lives among the over 7000 alcohol related deaths in underage people each year. Thinking about the lives that can be positively effected by limiting alcohol advertisements should be more important than the money being made by underage sales.

For additional information and resources, click through to Johns Hopkins, CAMY.