Alcohol ads on the rise on teen shows in US

MUMBAI: Barely months after the studies indicated that television commercials are responsible for the alarming obesity growth amongst the teen and children in US, here comes another piece of alarming research from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University: teens in the US watching television are being bombarded by ads selling alcohol products.


According to the study, the number of alcohol ads on network, local and cable television climbed up drastically in 2002 as compared to 2001. The number of TV commercials leapfrogged 39 per cent in 2002 to touch 289,381. In money terms too, spending rose 22 percent to touch $990 million.

The study indicated that the dramatic increase in alcohol ads could lead to a worsening of the teen alcohol and drug problem in the US.

The study revealed that youth between 12 and 20 years saw two beer and distilled spirits ads on television for every three seen by adults in 2002. They also watched nearly three advertisements for low-alcohol refreshers for every four seen by adults. The study says that it is quite possible that the industry's new marketing codes lag far behind its aggressive marketing practices

Centre on Alcohol Marketing & Youth had commissioned TNS Media Intelligence/ CMR to assess how often ads occurred and how much was spent on them, with Nielsen Media Research providing the audience data.

According to a press release issued by the centre, 15 of the television shows, most popular with teens ages 12-17, had alcohol ads. In 2002, alcohol companies placed 5,085 ads on programs such as Survivor, Fear Factor and That '70s Show, at a total cost of nearly $53 million. Spending on this group has increased by almost 60 per cent compared with 2001.

But one thing that the study firmly indicated is that parents and policymakers need to understand that even self-imposed industry standards are like offering false hope as youth will still be overexposed to alcohol advertising. May be the answer is to educate kids better.

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