Youth overexposed to TV alcohol advertisements

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A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that youth exposure to alcohol advertisements on national television programs is at an industry high.

In 25 of the largest U.S. television markets, one in four alcohol advertisements on popular youth TV programs exceeded the industry's voluntary standards.

Alcohol marketing and teens

The report showed that, if alcohol advertising was eliminated in these programs and not replaced, total youth exposure to alcohol marketing could drop by as much as one-third.

"Underage drinking harms teens, their families and their communities," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D. M.P.H. "Exposing teens to alcohol advertising undermines what parents and other concerned adults are doing to raise healthy kids."

Exposure to alcohol advertising was highest in Houston, followed by Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago.

Local vs. national ratings

The study marks the first time researchers have used local ratings to determine youth exposure to alcohol marketing.

"Alcohol industry codes have so far not specified whether companies should use local or national ratings data when purchasing alcohol advertising," said David Jernigan, Ph.D., Director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) and study author. "This study suggests that by using readily-available information on the make-up of local TV audiences, advertisers could help reduce youth exposure to alcohol advertising."

The researchers examined alcohol marketing placements in 2010 for 10 programs that had the largest number of youth viewers within four program categories: network sports, network non-sports, cable sports and cable non-sports. Using Nielsen data, the team then assessed exposure to alcohol ads.

"This study indicates that the alcohol industry's self-regulation of alcohol advertising could be improved," said study author and CAMY Director David Jernigan, Ph.D. "The potential public health pay-off in terms of reduced risk of underage drinking and harms related to it could be quite substantial."

Source: Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

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