Seeing more advertisements had a stronger effect on drinking than drinking had on noticing advertisements. The effect of alcohol advertising exposure on youth drinking was small and positive. The advertising effects were similar for the subset of underage respondents (Martin et al., 2002, 902 citing Snyder et (2006)."
In addition to Snyder et al. (2006) other researchers have examined the impact of alcohol advertisements on underage youth. For instance, in their study entitled "Alcohol Advertising and Youth: A Measured Approach," Jernigan et al. (2005) examined the advertisement of alcohol companies and the manner in which they expose youth to such advertisements. The study involved the impact of alcohol advertisements on youth age 15-20. The research found that most alcohol advertisement occurred in places where youth were more likely to see them than adults. In addition the research found that "much of this excess exposure of youth to alcohol advertising in the United States could be eliminated if alcohol companies would adopt a threshold of 15% (roughly the proportion of 12-20 years-old in the population 12 and above) as the maximum youth audience composition for their advertising. Although adoption of such a threshold would still leave much youth exposure to alcohol marketing in such "unmeasured" activities as sponsorships, on-premise promotions and campus marketing, it would assist alcohol companies in reaching their intended audiences more efficiently while reducing overall youth exposure to their advertising (Jernigan et al. 2005, 312)." These finding demonstrate that alcohol advertisements more likely than not have viewers who are underage. This means that if alcohol companies truly cared about youth there are ways in which they could advertise that would decrease the likelihood that youth would be exposed to such advertisements. In addition such reductions would serve the purpose of allowing alcohol companies to more effectively target the correct audiences.
Other research indicates that the impact of alcohol advertisement on youth is not just an American problem. Indeed, researchers from all over the world have investigated this topic. According to a report published by the ELSA project in the Netherlands, Alcohol advertisement to youth is a problem throughout Europe. In some respects advertisement of alcohol is different in certain European communities because the consumption of alcohol is less taboo and legal drinking ages are lower than in the United States. For instance, in some European nations such as Germany the legal drinking age is 18 as opposed to 21. Nevertheless alcoholism and underage consumption is still a problem in Europe. According to the report, alcohol advertisement to youth is likely to occur in Europe because such advertisements are poorly regulated ("The Impact of Alcohol Advertising"). The research also insists that alcohol advertisements shape the opinions of youth about alcohol and increase their desires to consume alcohol. The report asserts that
"…the content of advertisements is related to expectancies about the use of alcohol amongst young people and the role of alcohol in their lives. Young people are particularly drawn to elements of music, characters, story and humour. Young people who like advertisement believe that positive consequences of drinking are more likely, their peers drink more frequently, and their peers approve more of drinking. These beliefs interact to produce a greater likelihood of drinking, or of intention to drink in the near future ("The Impact of Alcohol Advertising," 8)."
The report also explains that the fact that alcohol advertisements increase the likelihood that a young person will consume alcohol are not surprising because the primary purpose of such advertisements is to increase the consumption of alcohol. In fact the report points out the French LoeEvin that restricts what is contained in alcohol advertisement This law places limits on the messages and images placed in alcohol advertisements so that only the quality of the product can be referred when advertising.
This article also focuses on why adolescents are more likely to be vulnerable to such advertisements. According to the report the adolescent brain is in the process of a great deal of growth as such young people are much more prone to being impulsive and have an increased sensitivity to reward and pleasure ("The Impact of Alcohol Advertising"). That is the idea of receiving a reward or pleasure from certain actions, outweighs the consequences that are likely to occur from these actions (Pechmann, 2005). In addition the report points out the when some young people already have issues with alcohol amongst their family or friends, they are more likely to be effected by alcohol advertisement. This vulnerability actually increases as the individual increases the amount of alcohol that they consume ("The Impact of Alcohol Advertising," ). With these things understood the report explains that alcohol advertisement actually takes advantage of the vulnerability of young people by "shaping their attitudes, perceptions and particularly expectancies about alcohol use, which then influence youth decisions to drink ("The Impact of Alcohol Advertising," 10)." Such vulnerabilities are made more severe by the constant exposure to alcohol advertisement in the media. The report points out that this media is no longer just in the form of television or radio but also cell phones and the internet ("The Impact of Alcohol Advertising"). The constant advertisement causes young people to desire alcohol at increasingly younger ages (Jefferis, 2005).
Indeed all the research related to this topic has found there to be some correlation between alcohol consumption amongst young people and the amount of advertisement that they were exposed to as children. The research insists that this exposure led to an increase in the likelihood that they would consume alcohol even at an age when doing so was illegal. The research indicates that television is a powerful way to advertise because the young people surveyed could actually recollect the alcohol advertisement that they were exposed to.
There have been some strides in the effort to control the amount of alcohol advertisement that underage people are exposed to .However, there must be much more of a concerted effort to reduce the amount of advertisement that young people are exposed to as it relates to the drinking of alcohol. In addition young people have been exposed to groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving who make a concerted effort to guarantee that students understand the problems that can occur as a result of drunk driving. For instance MADD has programs in which they go into schools and reenact drunk driving accidents so that young people can see the results of drunk driving and make choices that are more responsible.
The purpose of this discussion was to critically evaluate any evidence that seems to indicate that alcohol advertising and promotion is a contributory factor in the initiation and maintenance of underage drinking. The research indicates that there are many times in which youth who are under the legal drinking age are exposed to alcohol advertisements. The research also indicates that youth are more likely to view alcohol advertisements than are adults because of where these advertisements are placed. The investigation also found that youth are more vulnerable to such advertisements because of the states of their brain development which makes them sensitive to rewards and pleasure. This also means that young people often fail to see and/or understand the consequences of underage drinking. With these things understood the amount of advertising seen on television, internet and mobile phones increases the likelihood that underage people will consume alcohol and even increase their consumption of alcohol as a result of such advertisements.
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