Alcohol Warnings Ignored by Teens
> 7/12/2007 11:21:33 AM

A study published in the July 2007 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health has found that teens pay little attention to alcohol warning messages in print ads.  The study, conducted at Brigham Young University, tested junior high-school students by having them read various alcohol advertisements. The researchers studied the eye movements of the participants, specifically measuring the amount of time each devoted to the ad itself and the warning messages. What researchers found was, on average each teen spent 7 seconds reading and viewing the advertisement but only 0.35 seconds looking at the warnings. At the conclusion of the experiment, very few could even remember what the warnings mentioned.

Lead researcher Steven Thomsen was quoted by Join Together, an alcohol and drug policy website, as saying:

"Basically, the adolescents don't really see the responsibility message. It's nice the responsibility messages are included. The question is, 'Are they effective? If they are not effective, what can we do to make them more effective?"

Most companies put millions of dollars into their advertisement campaigns, which aim to entice potential customers into buying their product. They do this many ways, including flashy and appealing advertisements aimed at stimulating people’s minds. The warning messages actually dissuade customers from buying the product, so presenting them with the least amount of fanfare benefits the company, and leads to results such as these.

If these types of warnings are going to continue to be the focus in regulating alcohol ads, then we need to look again at how to make them more noticeable and more effective. Black box cigarette ad and packaging warnings provide one example. The bottomline is though, if these ads are to be taken seriously be teens, they need to first be taken seriously by the industry and government organizations that regulate it.

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