Drink advertisements really feed underage drinks, new research suggests.
According to the study, the alcohol industry focuses on children on social media and during soaps and other popular TV shows.
Product placement in movies and at sporting events is also widespread – with mascots such as the Budweiser Frogs easily recognized and trusted by children.
The same techniques were used by tobacco manufacturers to lure young smokers, scientists warn.
“The association of exposure to alcohol and tobacco advertising and the perception of adolescents, knowledge of and use of these substances are remarkably similar,” said lead author Dr. Michael Weitzman, pediatrician at New York University.
“It contributes to much-needed evidence that the link between alcohol advertising and teenage alcohol use is causal.”
Alcohol companies use the same techniques that were notoriously effective for Big Tobacco – including child-friendly mascots and strategic product placements – to attract teenagers and encourage minors, a new study found (file)
Dr. Weitzman and his student Lily Lee based their findings using an epidemiological formula that links environmental exposure and disease.
They said: ‘Exposure to alcohol advertising changes the attitude of teenagers about alcohol and can cause them to start drinking.
‘Just as tobacco advertising causes teenage smoke, exposure to alcohol advertisements causes teenagers to drink. Advertising has long influenced how people buy and consume goods.
“Young people are particularly vulnerable because of their potential for brand loyalty, limited skepticism and widespread use of social media – where alcohol marketing is increasingly being found.”
Alcohol consumption in teenagers is a major public health problem that leads to injuries – including those from car accidents – to risky sexual behavior and damage to the developing brain.
Although alcohol use by minors has declined somewhat in recent years, according to the Addiction Campuses, there are still an estimated 10 million people between 10 and 20 years of age who drink alcohol.
About 60 percent of high school seniors in the US drink, and they tend to eat more and faint than adults, who are more likely to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.
Research shows that teenage exposure to advertising is associated with the attitude and behavior of drinking.
This is the first analysis that shows that it is the cause. The same criteria showed that smoking causes cancer and that tobacco marketing allows young people to smoke.
Factors and behaviors of tobacco manufacturers who led the surgeon-general to conclude that large tobacco caused teenagers to smoke and later developed poorer health outcomes were set out in a 2012 report that applied to the case of alcohol.
“The conclusion that the relationship between exposure to tobacco advertising and tobacco use by adolescents is causally permitted for policy development that warranted further regulation of tobacco advertising targeted at young people,” said Dr.. Weitzman.
“The conclusion is also the framework for investigating a possible analogous relationship with alcohol.”
In every aspect analyzed, the influence of tobacco and alcohol advertising on teenagers was reflected.
For example, both tobacco and alcohol companies have used mascots in advertisements.
Examples are Joe Camel from Camel cigarettes – a controversial cartoon character devised by Camel cigarettes – and the Budweiser frogs.
In addition, both industries have used films, television and sporting events as opportunities for advertising and product placement.
Studies have shown that exposure to smoking and drinking increases the risk of initiating young people.
The researchers also discovered that neighborhoods with a large number of tobacco sellers expose young people to more tobacco advertising and make it easier to buy cigarettes.
This finding also applies to the density of alcohol stores. It is disturbing that tobacco and alcohol stores are often in the vicinity of schools.
And the researchers discovered that exposure to tobacco and alcohol advertising and knowledge of teenagers, attitudes, initiation and continued use of the products are extremely similar.
Many studies show that advertising is a risk factor for both smoking and drinking, with several studies indicating a dose-dependent relationship.
The more exposure, the greater the consumption, reports the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
The researchers said, “These findings indicate that exposure to alcohol advertising causes more alcohol use in teenagers.”
Research shows that underage drinkers are more than five times more likely to buy alcohol after they have advertised this on TV.
A previous American study by Boston University found a strong connection between what young people under 18 saw on television and how they drank the following month.