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Groups to Alcohol Industry: Stop Advertising to Kids

Feb. 25, 2016

Groups to Alcohol Industry: Stop Advertising to Kids

Alcohol Industry Fails to Protect Youth From Harmful Alcohol Ads

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The alcohol industry should strengthen and enforce its advertising codes to prevent youth from viewing inappropriate and harmful alcohol advertisements, a group of consumer advocates said in a letter (PDF) today.

The letter comes in response to new research (PDF) conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, which shows that the alcohol industry’s current advertising codes are weak and not being enforced. Johns Hopkins researchers found that between 2005 and 2012, more than 15 billion alcohol advertisement impressions on TV, most of them on cable, were viewed by audiences that included more youth than allowed by the self-regulated industry guidelines.

“The industry has long opposed government regulation of marketing and advertising, which makes it incumbent on you to maintain strict and aggressively enforced standards. The Johns Hopkins report shows this is not happening, needlessly endangering youth across the country. It also defines a straightforward path to remedy current failings,” the letter states.

Studies show a correlation between excessive underage drinking and the number of alcohol advertisements to which youth are exposed. Excessive alcohol drinking kills on average 4,300 people under the legal drinking age and is also a risk factor among the top three leading causes of death for this age group (accidents, suicide and homicide).

Johns Hopkins University and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommend that alcohol associations adopt strong “no-buy” list criteria that would prohibit alcohol advertisements from airing on programs and during times that youth are more likely to be watching television.

Based on the recommendations of Johns Hopkins University and the FTC, the consumer advocacy coalition urged The Beer Institute, The Wine Institute and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States to:

  • Avoid advertising on programs that are known to have previously violated placement standards;
  • Avoid advertising on programs that run during time periods known to be popular among youth; and
  • Avoid programs that are known to have a small number of adult viewers.

To provide further guidance to alcohol associations, Johns Hopkins also has created a list of specific programs and network/time of day combinations where alcohol advertisements should not be aired.

The letter (PDF) was signed by Public Citizen and Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County (Pivot), Alcohol Justice, American Academy of Pediatrics, Bon Secours New York Health System, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Council for Prevention, Drug Free Action Alliance, LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addictions, the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), National Liquor Law Enforcement Association, New Futures, New York Alcohol Policy Alliance, Oregon Lines for Life, Project Extra Mile and US Alcohol Policy Alliance.