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Alcohol Ads Target Young Blacks

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Young Blacks see far more than their share of the $333 million worth of advertising placed in major magazines by the nation’s alcohol industry, a new university study shows.

A report by Georgetown University’s Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, released last month, said Blacks from 12 to 20 years old saw 77 percent more of these ads in 2002 than their non-Black peers did.

The disproportionate exposure was amplified when the report broke down types of alcohol. Young Blacks saw 81 percent more magazine ads for distilled spirits, the study found. The report shows "that the industry is directly targeting Black kids," says Katherine Stone PhD., child psychologist and advisor to the NAACP Image Awards. "African American kids tend to be trendsetters in what they buy, so the industry thinks if it can get more African-American kids to buy, it can also get their White counterparts to buy."

Stone says, "even more disturbing is the increasing number of African-American celebrities and professional models who receive millions to promote alcohol products." Jack Daniel's was among the largest spenders on alcohol ads that reached Black youth through magazines, the study found. The whiskey maker denied targeting any underage markets.

The magazines that most exposed young Blacks to alcohol ads were Sports Illustrated, Vibe, Cosmopolitan, ESPN The Magazine, Jet, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Ebony, In Style, Playboy, GQ, Essence, and People. The report also found that alcohol companies spent $11.7 million in 2002 on advertising in the 15 television shows that are most popular among Black youth, including the Bernie Mac Show, "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill" and "George Lopez."

The industry also targeted young Blacks with radio ads on rap/hip-hop and R&B stations in the nations largest markets. Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, and Washington DC accounted for 70 percent of Black youth exposure to alcohol ads on the radio.

Dr. Stone says adults and parents have a responsibility to help youngsters see past the marketing hype. Easy access to many urban neighborhood liquor stores and a thriving Black market targeting partying teens inadvertently legitimizes alcohol use. Excessive drinking is a serious health risk. While the alcohol industry stands by its marketing tactics, it's up to us to tell our kids, Don't Fall For The Hype!

Dr. Levister welcomes reader mail concerning their body but regrets that he is not able to answer individual letters. Your letters will be incorporated into the column as space permits. You may direct your letters to Dr. Levister in care of Black Voice News, P.O. Box 1581, Riverside, CA 92502.

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