Youth exposure to alcohol advertising on TV in the
U.S. increased 71% between 2001 and 2009, according to a report released
Wednesday by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY), driven by
distilled spirits ads on cable.
The makers of those spirits panned the study as
careless at best and biased at worst.
While the center concedes efforts by the industry
to strengthen self-regulation, it says the average number of alcohol ads per
year seen by young people increased from 217 in 2001 to 366 in 2009. The beer
and distilled spirits industries agreed back in 2003 to place their ads only in
shows whose makeup of underage audiences was 30% or less, compared to the
previous threshold of 50% or less.
Those results were based on research by 2.7
million ads--$8 billion worth--over that nine-year period. The study also found
that youth under the legal drinking age were 22 times as likely to see an
alcohol ad as a responsible drinking PSA. "Numerous long-term studies have
determined that exposure to alcohol advertising and marketing increases the
likelihood that young people will start drinking, or that they will drink more
if they are already consuming alcohol," said CAMY.
CAMY called for tightening industry
The Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) dismissed
the findings and pointed to continuing declines in underage drinking.
"Once again, the Center on Alcohol Marketing
and Youth's (CAMY) report appears to be at best careless and at worst, another
example of biased advocacy research," the group said in a statement.
"CAMY Director David Jernigan's conclusion that the '[i]ndustry standards
need to be tightened to protect youth from alcohol marketing' ignores the fact
that while advertising on cable television increased from 2001-2009, the latest
Federal government statistics released yesterday show that alcohol consumption
rates among 8th, 10th and 12th graders have continuously declined during this
same period and are at historic lows."
"DISCUS and its member companies have been and remain totally opposed
to underage drinking and believe that early and persistent education supported
by tough laws and strong enforcement are the key factors in this long-term
progress," said DISCUS President Dr. Peter Cressy.