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Posted at 2:20 PM ET, 01/ 3/2011

JHU Study: Alcohol commercials reach growing number of youth

By Jenna Johnson
Jenna Johnson

In recent years, alcohol companies have vowed to reduce the number of youth who see their commercials by voluntarily strengthening their own rules for when and where to place ads.

But in 2009, the average youth (anyone between the ages of 12 and 20) watched one alcohol-promoting commercial on TV each day, an increase of about 71 percent from 2001, according to a new report by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The center is currently funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The center worked with a advertising research firm, Virtual Media Resources, to analyze nearly 2.7 million advertisements placed by alcohol companies between 2001 and 2009. It's estimated that those ads cost more than $8 billion. Researchers found that the average number of alcohol ads seen by youth increased from 217 in 2001 to 366 in 2009, which is higher than the rate of adult exposure to such ads.

That increase is being driven by a rapidly growing number of distilled spirit ads on cable TV, as youth saw 30 times more distilled spirit ads in 2009 than they did in 2001, the center found.

"This is a significant and troubling escalation, and shows the ineffectiveness of the industry's current voluntary standards." said David H. Jernigan, the director of the center, in a press release.

The Distilled Spirits Council told the Baltimore Sun that the report was misleading and biased. In a statement, the group stated its opposition to underage drinking and pointed to recently released federal statistics showing that teen alcohol consumption rates are continually declining.

Alcohol is the "drug of choice among children and adolescents," and each year it contributes to thousands of deaths, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The 2010 Monitoring the Future survey found that 26.8 percent of a pool of students in eighth, 10th or 12th grades had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days.

In 2003 several alcohol trade associations agreed to stop advertising in media venues where people under 21 made up at least 30 percent of the audience. (The National Research Council, the Institute of Medicine and several state attorneys general have pushed for that threshold to be reduced to 15 percent, according to the center.)

The voluntary shift to 30 percent resulted in a substantially lower number of alcohol ads in magazines, according to the center. Meanwhile, the number of alcohol commercials increased, especially on cable channels. (The center has a few examples on its Web site.)

The center found that five cable networks were more likely to show alcohol ads to youth than to adults over the age of 21, per capita. Those networks were Comedy Central, BET, E1, FX and Spike.

More than half of commercials watched by youth featured one of 12 brands: Miller Lite, Coors Light, Captain Morgan Rums, Bud Light, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Miller Genuine Draft Light Beer, Crown Royal Whiskey, Corona Extra Beer, Disaronno Originale Amaretto, Smirnoff Vodkas, Miller Chill and Labatt Blue Light Beer.

You can read the full report, here. What do you think? Tell me in the comments.

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By Jenna Johnson  | January 3, 2011; 2:20 PM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags:  Johns Hopkins  
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If everyone of these Ivy League educated politicians who may be very bright in theory but have little common sense would read Diane Ravich's book: THE DEATH AND LIFE OF THE GREAT AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM-HOW TESTING AND CHOICE ARE UNDERMINING EDUCATION they would see the billions of dollars that have been wasted in NCLB with little to no results. Education is just another area where they make decisions with little to no knowledge.

Posted by: dickmackey14 | January 4, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

The claim that this report is biased seems weak at best. The report claims that alcohol commercials are reaching a growing number of youth, not that teen drinking is increasing. Such an objection has been made simply to try and distract from the fact that the industry is not capable of regulating themselves.

Posted by: Wander099 | January 4, 2011 8:30 PM | Report abuse

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