Alcohol Advertising Targeted to Youth May Not Cause Abuse

Alcohol Advertising Targeted to Youth May Not Cause Abuse

Table of Contents: Further Readings

“Self-Regulation of Beverage Alcohol Advertising,” ICAP Report, January 2001. Copyright © 2001 by the International Center for Alcohol Policies. Reproduced by permission.

The alcoholic beverage industry practices effective voluntary self-regulation in concert with trade associations and federal agencies, the International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP) argues in the following viewpoint. The center further contends that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has concluded that the industry does not direct alcohol advertising to young audiences. Moreover, despite critics’ claims that exposure to alcohol advertising could lead youths to abuse alcohol, there is no conclusive evidence that such advertisinginfluences drinking beliefs. The International Center for Alcohol Policies, a nonprofit organization supported by eleven international beverage alcohol companies, is dedicated to reducing the abuse of alcohol worldwide.

As you read, consider the following questions:

  1. According to the center, what are the two basic elements of self-regulation?
  2. What was the conclusion of the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the effects of alcohol advertising on alcohol-related problems?

An important element of public policy is developing standards regarding how the private sector communicates information about their products. Ideally, advertising is meant to inform the public so that they can be aware of products and make informed choices among different products or brands. Advertising is, of course, also of benefit to businesses in assisting them to sell their products, which in most countries is a commercial right.

This issue of ICAP [International Center for Alcohol PoliciesReports will explore the concept of self-regulation in relation to the advertising of alcohol beverages. It will explore the elements of different codes and how they are applied in practice. It is recognized that advertising is one of several forms of commercial communication, including sponsorship, promotion and the Internet. …

Self-regulation is the process whereby industry actively participates in and is responsible for its own regulation. While this process varies widely from country to country, the foundation for advertising self-regulation is based on the principles embodied in the International Code ofAdvertising, issued by the International Chamber of Commerce. The Code states in its introduction that advertising should be legal, decent, honest and truthful, prepared with a sense of social responsibility to the consumer and society and with proper respect for the rules of fair competition. This is accomplished through rules and principles of best practice to which advertisers and the advertising industry agree to be bound.

The basic elements of self-regulation are two-fold: a code of practice or set of guiding principles governing the content of advertisements, and a process for the establishment, review and application of the code or principles. Impartiality is seen to be key to an effective code and public trust in it. …

There may be several self-regulatory bodies to which a given alcohol beverage company must adhere regarding commercial communications. …

Voluntary Advertising Codes Are the Key

The alcohol beverage industry in the United States has established separate voluntary advertising codes initiated by trade associations from each of the three sectors that make up the industry—beer, wine and distilled spirits. At the same time, 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.

Generally, the three codes provide that alcohol advertising and marketing efforts should not be directed at or appeal to an audience that is primarily underage. In conducting their review, the FTC looked at issues such as advertising placement, advertising content, product placement, online advertising and college marketing, how each of these were implemented and what best practices emerged.

The FTC report concluded that “for the most part, members of the industry comply with the current standards set by the voluntary advertisingcodes, which prohibit blatant appeals to young audiences and advertising in venues where most of the audience is under the legal drinking age.” The report also noted that many individual companies had their own internal standards that exceed code requirements.

Third-party review that would provide for an independent assessment of complaints was one recommendation cited by the FTC to improve the codes still further. Several beverage alcohol companies support this recommendation in one form or another, but opinion about the need for this enhancement is divided. The best practices cited by the FTC include prohibiting ads with substantial underage appeal even if they also appeal to adults, and curbing on-campus and spring break sponsorships and advertising.

The three codes operated by the Beer Institute, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and the Wine Institute have generally strengthened their provisions over the years. In 1997, DISCUS repealed one of its provisions which called for a ban on spirits advertising on television. This change put the DISCUS code in line with the codes of the Beer Institute and the Wine Institute on this issue. DISCUS argued that if beer and wine were allowed to advertise on television with certain restrictions, the spirits industry should be too. There was strong adverse reaction to ending the ban, which had been in place for 50 years. However, in the end, the response to this reaction was not to legislate, but for most major broadcast television networks to decline to accept spirits advertising. The spirits industry continues to strongly promote the expansion of their advertising over the broadcast media, though networks have yet to accept such advertising.

This example also illustrates that self-regulation is not simply incumbent upon the alcohol beverage industry to police itself. It acts in concert with the agencies responsible for advertising form and content as well as the media that carry the advertising. …

Research on the Effects of Advertising Is Not Conclusive

In recent years, public health advocates have called for strict regulation or elimination of alcohol advertising, and particular attention has been drawn to how alcohol advertising might affect young people. The argument that alcohol advertising is intended to create brand preference and not give cause for abuse by showing irresponsible consumption rings hollow among these critics, some of whom believe that advertisingincreases alcohol abuse and that self-regulation does little to prevent this.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently reviewed the evidence on the effects of alcohol advertising on alcohol consumption, alcohol-related problems and drinking-related beliefs and attitudes. Studies were drawn from seven diverse fields. The overall conclusion was that survey research on alcohol advertising and young people “consistently indicates small but significant connections between exposure to and awareness of alcohol advertising and drinking beliefs and behaviors.” The report adds that taken as a whole, the survey studies provide some evidence that alcohol advertising may influence drinking beliefs but that this evidence is far from conclusive. “When all of the studies are considered, the results of research on the effects of alcohol advertising are mixed and not conclusive.” The report states that with few exceptions, recent econometric research provides “very little consistent evidence that alcohol advertising influences per capita alcohol consumption, sales or problems.”

FURTHER READINGS


Books

  • Alcoholics Anonymous World Service. Alcoholics Anonymous. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Service, 2000.
  • American Health Research Institute. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome—The Man-Made Disease for Babies and Children: Index of New Information. Washington, DC: ABBE Publishers Association of Washington, DC, 1999.
  • Anatoly Antoshechkin. Alcohol: Poison or Medicine? Bloomington, IN: 1st Books Library, 2002.
  • Charles Bufe. Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure? Tucson, AZ: See Sharp Press, 1998.
  • Rosalyn Carson-Dewitt, ed. Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior. New York: MacMillan Library Reference, 2001.
  • Carol Colleran and Debra Erickson Jay. Aging and Addiction: Helping Older Adults Overcome Alcohol or Medication Dependence. Center City, MN: Hazelden Information Education, 2002.
  • Griffiths Edwards. Alcohol: The World’s Favorite Drug. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2002.
  • Kathleen Whelen Fitzgerald. Alcoholism: The Genetic Inheritance. Friday Harbor, WA: Whales Tales Press, 2002.
  • Anne M. Fletcher. Sober for Good. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
  • Gene Ford. The Science of Healthy Drinking. San Francisco: Wine Appreciation Guild, 2003.
  • Judith Goodman. The Female Alcoholic. Temecula, CA: Women and Addiction Counseling and Educational Services, 2000.
  • Raymond V. Haring. Shattering Myths and Mysteries of Alcohol: Insights and Answers to Drinking, Smoking, and Drug Use. Sacramento: Healthspan Communications, 1998.
  • Dwight B. Heath. Drinking Occasions: Comparative Perspectives on Alcohol and Culture. New York: Brunner-Routledge, 2000.
  • John Jung. Psychology of Alcohol and Other Drugs: A Research Perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2000.
  • Katherine Ketchum et al. Under the Influence: Understanding and Defeating Alcoholism. New York: Bantam Dell, 2000.
  • Jodee Kulp. The Best I Can Be: Living with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. St. Paul, MN: Better Endings, New Beginnings, 2000.
  • Gene Logsdon and Michael Jackson. Good Spirits: A New Look at Ol’ Demon Alcohol. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 1999.
  • Eric Newhouse. Alcohol: Cradle to Grave. Center City, MN: Hazelden Information Education, 2001.
  • Thomas Nordegren. The A-Z Encyclopedia of Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Parkland, FL: Brown Walker Press, 2002.
  • Heather Ogilvie et al. Alternatives to Abstinence: A New Look at Alcoholism and Choices in Treatment. Long Island City, NY: Hatherleigh Press, 2001.
  • Nancy Olson. With a Lot of Help from Our Friends: The Politics of Alcoholism. New York: Writers Club Press, 2003.
  • Stanton Peele. The Meaning of Addiction: An Unconventional View. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998.
  • Thomas R. Pegram. Battling Demon Rum: The Struggle for a Dry America, 1800-1933. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1999.
  • J. Vincent Peterson et al. A Nation Under the Influence: America’s Addiction to Alcohol. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2002.
  • Bert Pluymen. The Thinking Person’s Guide to Sobriety. New York: Griffin Trade Paperback, 2000.
  • Susan Powter. Sober … and Staying That Way: The Missing Link in the Cure for Alcoholism. New York: Fireside, 1999.
  • Frederick Rotgers et al. Responsible Drinking: A Moderation Management Approach for Problem Drinkers. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, 2002.
  • Lori Rotskoff. Love on the Rocks: Men, Women, and Alcohol in Post-World War II America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.
  • Joseph Santoro et al. Kill the Craving: How to Control the Impulse to Use Drugs and Alcohol. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, 2001.
  • Marc Alan Schuckit. Educating Yourself About Alcohol and Drugs: A People’s Primer. Cambridge, MA: HarperCollins Publishers, 1998.
  • Frank A. Sloan and Emily M. Stout, eds. Drinkers, Drivers, and Bartenders: Balancing Private Choices and Public Accountability. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
  • James P. Spradley. You Owe Yourself a Drunk: An Ethnography of Urban Nomads. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1999.
  • Joseph Volpicelli and Maja Szalavitz. Recovery Options: The Complete Guide. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2000.
  • Ronald R. Watson and Adam K. Myers, eds. Alcohol and Heart Disease. London: Taylor and Francis, 2002.
  • Henry Wechsler and Bernice Wuethrich. Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 2002.
  • Danny M. Wilcox. Alcoholic Thinking. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998.

Periodicals

  • Beer Institute. “Advertising Warning Legislation,” Beer Institute Online, April 2003. www.beerinstitute.org.
  • Brown University Digest of Addiction Theory and Application. “Risk for Developing Alcoholism Linked to Genetic Characteristics,” October 2000.
  • Free Republic. “Study: Kids Exposed to TV Beer Marketing,” December 12, 2002. www.freerepublic.com.
  • John Gaffney. “New Alcohol Study Refuted by Industry,” Media Daily News, December 12, 2002. www.mediapost.com.
  • Susan Greenfield. “Alcohol on the Brain: Myths and Mysteries,” Alcohol in Moderation, May 14, 2002. www.aim-digest.com.
  • International Center for Alcohol Policies. “Industry Views on Beverage Alcohol Advertising and Marketing, with Special Reference to Young People,” 2002. www.icap.org.
  • David H. Jernigan. “The Global Expansion of Alcohol Marketing: Illustrative Case Studies and Recommendations for Action,” Journal of Public Health Policy, 1999.
  • Ilana Mercer. “Addictions Are About Behavior, Not Disease,” Calgary Herald, June 22, 2000.
  • Modern Brewery Age. “Beer Industry Responds to CAMY Underage Drinking Report with New Stats,” December 30, 2002.
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Age of Drinking Onset and Unintentional Injury Involvement After Drinking,” January 2001. www.nhtsa.gov.
  • Vanessa O’Connell and Christopher Lawton. “Anti-Alcohol Group Seeks Limits on TV Ads,” Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2002.
  • Pain and Central Nervous System Week. “Researchers Track Gene Responsible for Alcohol Withdrawal,” June 3, 2002.
  • University of Michigan and National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Monitoring the Future Survey,” December 13, 2002. www.monitoringthefuture.org.
  • Paula J. Wart. “Just Like Dear Old Dad: Alcoholism May Be in the Genes,” Wellsource, April 3, 2002.

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