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Study: Alcohol ads still expose consumers to risky messages

Alcohol is one of the most heavily marketed products in the United States. Wine, beer and liquor companies spend at least $4 billion a year on promotion and advertising. Despite this high level of marketing, there are very few federal regulations in place specifying what can and cannot be said. In addition, the rules that are in place can be easily skirted around.

A new report from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that this lack of oversight has resulted in underage consumers being exposed to potentially damaging content. Researchers reviewed over 1,800 print ads of various alcoholic products between 2008 and 2010 and found that, while the ads were within federal guidelines, many also contained content that promoted unhealthy consumption. 

"Considering advertising's demonstrated power to shape behavior, it's important that the public health community be knowledgeable about alcohol advertising content, particularly when it reaches underage audiences," said study author Katherine Smith in a press release. "Our findings suggest further limitations and enhanced federal oversight may be necessary to protect public health."

Many of the questionable ads examined by the Johns Hopkins team objectified women and associated alcohol consumption with a glamorous lifestyle. Others suggested that alcohol could be used as a weight control product. 

In the past several years, at least a dozen studies have been released suggesting that the more adolescents are exposed to alcohol marketing, the more likely they are to drink. 

Preventing underage alcohol abuse first begins in the home. If you suspect your teen has a drinking problem, now is the time to seek help. Contact Intervention Services today to find out how an alcohol intervention can benefit your child. 

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