Monitoring and Reducing Youth Exposure to Alcohol Marketing

New research from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Boston University School of Public Health finds certain cable TV shows and networks are rife with alcohol advertisements that are reaching young people under 21 in violation of alcohol industry standards.

In the U.S., alcohol advertising is voluntarily regulated by the alcohol industry itself.  The voluntary self-regulatory code sets limits on the shows that marketers can place alcohol advertising on depending on the audience of the show; in other words, shows with a high concentration of youth viewers should not have any alcohol advertisements. “Non-compliant” ads refer to ads which violate this code; recent CAMY research has found that nearly 1 in 8 exposures to alcohol advertising among youth on cable TV aired at times when the youth audience was larger than what the industry voluntary guidelines allow.

CAMY has examined all alcohol advertisements on cable TV from October 2012 through September 2015 and found several shows are consistently “bad apples,” meaning non-compliant exposure is highly concentrated on these shows and networks:

  • FX Movie Prime
  • BET Movie of the Week
  • Comedy Central Movie
  • FXX Movie Prime
  • FX Movie Late
  • Spike TV Movie
  • American Ninja Warrior on Esquire TV
  • Sports Center Morning on ESPN

This new infographic,released this week, offers a compelling visual tool on the role these “bad apple” programs and networks play in the public health problem of youth exposure to alcohol advertising. The infographic has been posted to our Facebook and Twitter pages, should you want to share on social media.

“My message to parents is that if these are shows your kids are watching, you should be aware that they are likely seeing alcohol advertising, and that at least 25 long-term studies have found associations between how much young people are exposed to alcohol advertising and marketing, and how likely they are to start drinking or if already drinking, to drink more,” said Dr. David Jernigan, CAMY’s director.

New Federal data out yesterday shows that while alcohol use among middle and high school students is down, alcohol remains the number one illegal drug of choice for young people in America.

Jernigan cautions that parents need to be aware of their kids’ exposure to alcohol advertising and marketing beyond these programs, both on TV and in other outlets like magazines and the Internet.

“Many parents falsely assume that alcohol advertising is regulated like tobacco advertising in the U.S., and that is simply not the case.  Kids being exposed to alcohol ads and marketing on their phones, on TV, on public transit and at sporting events can have real public health consequences.”

Alcohol is the number one drug of choice among U.S. youth, and excessive alcohol use is responsible for an average of 4,350 deaths among people under the legal drinking age of 21 every year.