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Alcohol Ads Air More Frequently When Kids Watch, Study Says

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Alcohol companies have pledged to avoid advertising on TV programs with 30 percent or more youth viewership, but a new study of cable TV shows that the programs that fall under this threshold but retain the most popularity with kids tend to have the most alcohol advertising, Medical News Today reported Aug. 21.

Researcher from UCLA and the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) looked at 600,000 alcohol ads aired on cable between 2001 and 2006 and concluded that shows with the highest percentage of viewers ages 12 to 20 had the largest number of alcohol ads. Ads for beer, liquor and alcopops rose in correlation with the youth audience percentage, but wine ads decreased.

“This research suggests that ads are aimed at groups that include a disproportionate number of teens and that the alcohol industry’s voluntary self-monitoring is not working to reduce adolescent exposure to ads,” said CAMY director David Jernigan.

“The alcohol industry has consistently denied actively targeting teens, and our study isn’t designed to test that claim,” said lead study author Paul J. Chung of Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA and the RAND Corp. “However, the ultimate effect of their advertising strategies, intentional or not, appears to be greater exposure than might be expected if adults were the sole targets of ads.”

The study was published in the October 2009 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

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