The abundance of alcohol advertisements, especially on television, presents a possible influential factor regarding the actions and attitudes of youth towards alcohol. According to “Alcohol Advertising Targeted to Youth Causes Abuse,” restrictions of the alcohol industries are too relaxed, allowing their advertisements to target an audience primarily composed of teens under the age of 21. Many of these ads glamorize drinking or portray abusive drinking behavior as socially acceptable or even fun, possibly enticing young people to start drinking abusively or at an early, illegal age.
A study conducted by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth in 2001, surveying youth exposure to alcohol advertisements, revealed shocking evidence that about a fourth of television alcohol advertising, comprising of about 51,084 ads, was delivered more effectively to youth than to adults, reaching 89 percent of the youth audience. Other research conducted in 2001 reflected that alcohol industry spent “$1.8 million and placed 3,262 ads on programs where the underage audience was more than 50%.”
The loose restrictions placed on the advertising industries targeting a young audience, along with the overwhelming amount of these alcohol ads presents a possible motivating force propelling the growing issue of underage drinking and abuse.
While these strong feelings towards alcohol advertising depict a harmful threat towards early alcohol habits and consumption, others believe that the ads possess no methods of corruption. As advertising is designed to inform the public and convey a message, alcohol industries use advertising as a mode of communication in order to promote and sell their product. This presents a vital necessity in the prosperity of business and consumer awareness.
Ideas reflected in “Alcohol Advertising Targeted to Youth May Not Cause Abuse” support the opinion that alcohol industries are strictly limited and promote restricted terms of self-regulation. The American alcohol beverage industry has established separate voluntary advertising codes instigated by the beer, wine and distilled spirits industries, and the “Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for enforcing efforts to stop ‘unfair or deceptive acts of practice’ and recently was asked to review industry efforts to avoid promoting alcohol to underage consumers.”
Along with the claim that the alcohol industries exhibit and attempt to maintain honorable and controlled practices, recent studies by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services support an insignificant and intangible correlation between advertisements and underage drinking, claiming a lack of conclusive and consistent evidence.
Many sources present conflicting evidence regarding the question of the impact of alcohol advertisements on teens and their thoughts and actions towards alcohol. The uncertainty of this issue allows opposing views, but also establishes a worrying concern on the impact of television ads on the well being and life long habits adopted by children at an early age.