If Big Alcohol is reaching teens, so should recovery
The Drugfree.org had posted an interesting article about big alcohol targeting a teenage audience through the medium of magazines geared to teenage interest. Though no specific mention of the magazines are made, the article points to studies conducted by a new study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. 1,261 advertisements were studied and were found occurring 2,500 times in 11 different magazines were the majority readership is a teen-aged demographic.
The problem with the ads is that they may be in violation of industry guidelines protecting certain readerships from explicit exposure. The study is admirable, and it will be interesting to see what proscriptions will be enforced for these magazines that obviously consented to publishing the ads. The latent issue here is an old one: what is more important—propriety and protection or profit? Alcohol ads take up a sizable chunk in the market of commercial real estate during prime time television. People of all ages, teenagers included, see nightly television ads touting the popularity, camaraderie, and even a positivist work ethic of drinking (e.g. various Budweiser commercials ) and even the “manly” sophistication of drinking liquor. (e.g. kettle one vodka commercial)
The proliferation of alcohol’s propaganda is not surprising, nor should it be, to those billions of people worldwide who do not struggle with alcoholism or seeing a loved one suffering from alcohol abuse. “Drinking responsibly” (arguably impossible after a certain number of drinks consumed) is still a mantra that guides personal culpability to some degree and is useful in stemming the flow of a mass descent into cultural dissipation. Alcohol is so woven into the fabric of all human cultures and national histories; it is naïve to think another mass prohibition movement for the sake of our nation’s youth would gain any popularity.
It would be beneficial to see more public service-type (remember this?) announcements in these magazines and on television, but maybe with more informative substance than simply a vague egg-and-frying-pan analogy. The F.C.C. has to approve what it deems safe for public attention, and raising awareness for the dangers of targeting teenagers’ general immature and irresponsible nature (in the sense of overall youth and life inexperience). Alcoholism and drug addiction are serious maladies that need to be addressed with at least the same vigor as low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, hair loss, weight loss, depression, and a host of those other life inconveniences that receive so much media attention.