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Average TV-Watching Teen Sees One Alcohol Ad a Day

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Fueled largely by an increase in distilled spirits advertising on cable television, the growth rate in youths’ exposure to televised alcohol ads is outpacing that for adults, according to a Dec. 13 news release from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The report by the center indicated that exposure of youths 12 to 20 to alcohol ads on U.S. television increased 71 percent from 2001 to 2009.

The average TV-watching youth saw 366 alcohol ads in 2009.

“One a day is great for vitamins but not for young people being exposed to alcohol advertising,” said CAMY director David H. Jernigan, Ph.D.

The center said that the latest numbers were an indication of the failure of voluntary marketing standards in the alcohol industry, under which companies place ads in programming with a youth audience no higher than 30 percent. The report found that 13 percent of youths’ exposure to alcohol ads last year occurred during programming with more than a 30 percent youth audience.

Moreover, 44 percent of the exposures occurred during programming where youths were more likely than adults on a per capita basis to be watching. The five television networks where this viewing was most likely to occur were Comedy Central, BET, E!, FX and Spike.

Groups such as the Institute of Medicine have suggested lowering the industry’s voluntary threshold for the youth audience to 15 percent from 30 percent. But industry trade publications have reported that the industry has balked at a recent Federal Trade Commission request for a less ambitious move to 25 percent.          

Read the executive summary of the report, “Youth Exposure to Alcohol Advertising on Television, 2001-2009,” or download the full report, (PDF).

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