Mt. Vernon Register-News

Features

July 10, 2014

Are America's biggest alcohol brands targeting the country's underage youth?

WASHINGTON — It might be time for a bit of alcohol industry intervention.

Underage drinkers - those between the ages of 18 and 20, most specifically - are more heavily exposed to printed alcohol advertisements than any other age group, according to a new study. And it's America's biggest booze companies that could be to blame. The makers of Bud Light, Smirnoff Vodka, Coors Light, Absolut Vodka and a number of other popular drinks were among those whose advertisements were most heavily exposed to the underage drinkers.

The study, undertaken at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, scanned national magazine readership data to determine which age groups were being exposed to which alcohol brands. The authors believe it's the first of its kind - no study has previously examined the exposure of youth to magazine advertisements for popular alcohol brands. They also believe its results should be alarming. While the study stopped short of establishing any intent by major alcohol companies, it affirms a strong association between the beers and spirits underage drinkers like best and the ones they see most often in their favorite magazines, such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, US Weekly and Vogue.

Males between the age of 18 and 20 were about nine times more likely to find ads by the top 25 brands than the remaining 300-plus alcohol labels, according to the study. Females in the same age group were five times more likely.

"It is striking that the popular brands are so much more likely to have most heavily exposed 18-20 years than the less popular brands among young people," David Jernigan, one of the study's authors, said in an interview.

"Spending all this money to advertise your product to a group that can't yet purchase your product seems odd."

That is, unless those brands are subtly working to ensure their alcoholic hegemony.

"Indoctrination? To use a word like that I would have to be able to prove intent, which I can't right now," Jernigan said. "But the association is definitely supportive of our hypothesis that the advertising is playing a role."

Alcohol advertising is largely self-regulated in the U.S., meaning that the alcohol industry sets its own voluntary barriers. Those include minimizing their exposure to underage drinkers. Alcohol advertisements, for instance, should be used only in magazines where less than 30 percent of the readers are underage. But given the outcome of this study, and the overwhelming popularity of the top alcohol brands among America's underage drinkers - the top 25 brands account for nearly 50 percent of all underage binge drinking episodes - it appears that self-regulation likely won't suffice.

 

1
Text Only
Features
  • sleepchart.jpg America’s sleep-deprived cities

    Americans might run on sleep, but those living in the country's largest cities don't appear to run on much.

    August 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The Simpsons still going strong

    The groundbreaking animation first hit the air Dec. 17, 1989, but the family first appeared on television in "The Tracey Ullman Show" short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987.

    August 21, 2014

  • Pets.jpg Why do people look like their pets?

    As much as we might quibble over the virtues and vices of Canis domesticus, however, and over whether human nature is any better or worse than dog nature, even dog fanciers don't usually want to look like a dog.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Freshman.jpg 8 crucial tips for college freshmen

    With school starting back up around the country, no one has a bigger deer-in-the-headlights look than college freshmen.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can 6 seconds launch a career? A generation of Vine stars sure hopes so.

    A year ago, Shawn Mendes filmed himself singing a tentative acoustic cover of the Justin Bieber song "As Long as You Love Me" and put the results on Vine. He wasn't expecting much response. "I didn't really want anything to happen; I just kind of wanted to see what people would think," says Mendes, 16. "I posted that first Vine and woke up the next morning with 10,000 followers. That was pretty cool."

    August 14, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 3.09.32 PM.png VIDEO: Stars react to Robin Williams' death

    Prior to the premiere of “The Expendables 3” in Los Angeles, several movie stars shared their thoughts on the death of actor and comedian Robin Williams.

    August 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • job-fair.jpg Job market tilting toward workers

    The balance of power in the job market is shifting slowly toward employees from employers.

    August 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • ruralpoverty.jpg How rural poverty is changing: Your fate is increasingly tied to your town

    The town of Las Animas takes about five minutes to drive through when the one stoplight is blinking yellow, as usual. It's easy to miss but hard to escape. Just ask Frank Martinez.

    August 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dartmouth.jpg Break the college cartel

    Ask liberals why college is getting so expensive, and they'll probably tell you it's a case of government neglect. Ask conservatives the same question, and they'll tell you the opposite.

    August 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 3.43.11 PM.png Your brain helps you judge a face before you even see it

    In a new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers report that the amygdala — a part of the brain associated with decision making, memory and emotion — plays a part in telling us who to trust almost instantly.

    August 6, 2014 1 Photo

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks