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Alcohol Ads Violating Industry Rules More Likely in Magazines Popular With Teens

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Alcohol ads that violate industry guidelines are more likely to appear in magazines popular with teen readers, a new study finds. Ads violate industry guidelines if they appear to target a primarily underage audience, highlight the high alcohol content of a product, or portray drinking in conjunction with activities that require a high degree of alertness or coordination, such as swimming.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studied 1,261 ads for alcopops, beer, spirits or wine that appeared more than 2,500 times in 11 magazines that are popular among teens. The ads were rated according to a number of factors, such as whether they portrayed over-consumption of alcohol, addiction content, sex-related content, or injury content.

“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,” said study co-author David Jernigan, PhD. “It’s time to seriously consider stronger limits on youth exposure to alcohol advertising.”

Some of the ads in the study showed drinking near or on bodies of water, encouraging over-consumption of alcohol, and providing messages that supported alcohol addiction, Newswise reports. Almost one-fifth of the ads contained sexual connotations or sexual objectification, the researchers reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“The bottom line here is that youth are getting hit repeatedly by ads for spirits and beer in magazines geared towards their age demographic,” Jernigan said in a news release. “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, this report should serve as a wake-up call to parents and everyone else concerned about the health of young people.”

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