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Too Many Young People See Alcohol Ads, CDC Reports

Update Date: Nov 07, 2013 01:05 PM EST

Alcohol advertising in the United States relies heavily on the manufacturing companies to create standards that promote the ethical advertising of the substance. Even though the content of the advertisements matter greatly, where the advertisements are placed during different television programs is very important as well. According to a new study conducted by researchers from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), too many children and adolescents are being exposed to alcohol advertising.

"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."

For this study, the researchers looked at 10 programs each from four different categories of programs in 2010. The categories included network sports, network non-sports, cable sports and cable non-sports. The programs the researchers focused on where the ones with the largest numbers of youth viewers. The researchers found that in 25 of the largest television markets in America, one out of four alcohol advertisement had content on popular youth programs that exceeded what the industry voluntarily promised to control.

In 2003, the alcohol industry adopted a voluntary standard that stated that alcohol advertisements would not be aired on programs where the viewership is made up of 30 percent or more of America's youth who are under 21-years-old. Despite this standard, the report found that self-regulating techniques are not very effective.

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

The researchers reported that the cities with the highest alcohol advertisement exposure that exceeded the standards were Houston, TX at 31.5 percent followed by Los Angeles, CA at 30 percent. Other cities include Dallas, TX with 29.7 percent, Atlanta, GA with 27.6 percent and Chicago, IL with 27.5 percent.

The report was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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