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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Alcohol Industry Targets Underage Drinkers

There is a voluntary code in the alcohol industry: Only promote to adults. There is a good reason for such a code. Underage drinking leads to a host of problems, including alcohol poisoning, driving under the influence and the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Influencing young people to drink can have a serious impact on both individuals and society.

It’s worth pointing out that alcohol is used and abused among young people more than any other mind-altering substance, including tobacco and marijuana. While legal, the short-term risks associated with alcohol consumption are typically much greater than smoking cannabis and/or cigarettes. But, if you have ever watched beer commercials on television it’s probably occurred to you that such advertisements are often geared toward a young audience. Despite the voluntary code of social responsibility.

Look no further than a college sports game to see what we are talking about. A group of researchers decided to investigate how often corporate social contracts are breached, and young people are the targets of alcohol adverts. A study published in Alcoholism Clinical & Experimental Research showed that the alcohol brands most popular among underage drinkers run television ads that violate the industry's voluntary code, Science Daily reports. The beers teens drink the most are made by companies who regularly violate.

 

Preventing Underage Drinking


Drinking alcohol, especially in the manner that young people often do, can be particularly hazardous to one’s health. We have written often about the dangers of “binge drinking” and heavy episodic drinking. Nothing good comes from teens and young adults who engage in such practices. In our own field, the evidence is clear; young adults regularly seek treatment for alcohol use disorder. People whose own drinking was likely influenced at a young age by the alcohol industry.

Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers found that youth-preferred beer brands are made by the industry's biggest violators of the corporate social responsibility code, according to the article. The findings come from an analysis of 288 brand-specific beer advertisements, representing 23 brands. All of the ads aired during the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men's and women's basketball tournaments between 1999 to 2008.
"This is the first systematic investigation of the relationship between beer brands popular among youth and these brands' youth-targeted contents among their television advertisements aired during a decade of a major national sports event," lead author Ziming Xuan, associate professor of community health sciences at BUSPH. "It is no news that advertisements influence consumer behaviors, but to discover such a close link between brand-specific youth-appealing advertisement content and beer brand preference among underage drinkers is new, and certainly a concerning public health issue."
The research team found that 21.5 percent of the advertisements breached the voluntary code. The brands that violated the code aired ads far more often than the companies not popular among young people.

"These results suggest that some beer producers are successfully targeting underage youth and therefore deriving profits from illegal alcohol consumption," the researchers wrote. "Our evidence underscores the need for strong and independent enforcement of the code to prevent continued inclusion of youth-appealing content in alcohol marketing materials.”

 

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment


If you are a young adult whose life has become unmanageable due to heavy alcohol use, there is a good chance that treatment is required. Young adults can recover from alcohol use disorder, with help. Please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea if you are ready to break the cycle for addiction, and seek recovery.

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