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Deadly Cocktail: Alcohol Ads In Youth Magazines Violate Industry Rules

Each year, more than $4 billion is estimated to be spent by the alcohol industry for marketing its products. That youth are being disproportionately exposed to appealing alcohol advertisements in magazines is a known fact. Youth and alcohol ads appear to be a dangerous cocktail as at least 14 studies have found that the more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising and marketing, the more likely they are to drink, or if already drinking, to drink more.

A new study to examine risky behaviors depicted in alcohol advertising reveals that violations of industry guidelines are most common in magazines with sizeable youth readership.

As part of the study, researchers from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, or CAMY, at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined 1,261 ads for alcopops, beer, spirits or wine that appeared over 2,500 times in 11 different magazines with sizeable youth readership, and analyzed them for different risk codes namely, injury content, overconsumption content, addiction content, sex-related content and violation of industry guidelines.

According to the study findings, the ads target a primarily underage audience, portrays alcohol consumption in conjunction with activities requiring a high degree of alertness or coordination such as swimming, encourages overconsumption and provides messages supportive of alcohol addiction. In addition, nearly one in five ad occurrences contained sexual connotations or sexual objectification.

CAMY Director and study co-author David Jernigan said, "The finding that violations of the alcohol industry's advertising standards were most common in magazines with the most youthful audiences tells us self-regulated voluntary codes are failing. It's time to seriously consider stronger limits on youth exposure to alcohol advertising".

Alcohol is said to be responsible for 4,700 deaths per year among young people under the age of 21, and is associated with the three leading causes of death among youth namely, motor vehicle crashes, homicide and suicide.

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