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Protect Our Youth from Excessive Alcohol Ads

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.
Young Blacks see far more than their share of the $383 million worth of advertising placed in major magazines by the nation’s alcohol industry.

A report developed with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that young people who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to have alcohol-related problems later in life.

Blacks from 12 to 20 years old saw 77 percent more of these ads in 2008 than their non-Black peers did. Fixing the problem won’t be easy since many Americans consider underage drinking a rite of passage to adulthood.

The study says people who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to have alcohol-related problems later in life.

The report said there are 11 million underage drinkers in the U.S., and more than 7 million “binge drinkers.” The disproportionate exposure was amplified when the report broke down types of alcohol.  Young Blacks saw 81 percent more magazine ads for distilled spirits.

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. 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, and celebrity mouthpieces, the study found. The spirits maker denied targeting any underage markets.  The industry also targeted young Blacks with magazine, billboard, TV and radio ads on rap/hip-hop and R&B stations in the nation’s 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.

Adults and parents have a responsibility to educate our youth.  Easy access to urban neighborhood liquor stores and a thriving black market targeting partying teens, legitimizes alcohol use. Excessive drinking is a serious health risk.  Protect our youth from the hype!

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