Alcohol Industry Profits Widely from Underage Drinking
> 5/5/2006 11:23:39 AM

The volume of alcohol sales to minors is much greater than previously estimated, a new study reports. Researchers at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia  University list the yearly profits of illegal underage drinking at approximately $22.5 billion, or 17.5 percent of overall sales.

Advertising by the alcohol industry also panders heavily to those under 21; related magazine ads increase proportionately to the percentage of readers aged 12-19. Early exposure to advertising also significantly increases tendencies toward alcoholism, with young drinkers much more likely to become eventual abusers. Nearly one quarter of underage drinkers meet criteria for abuse, compared to 9.3 percent of those over 21, and industry ads often use variables which are widely known to attract younger consumers, such as humor, pop music, and animal characters. A 1996 study of children aged nine to 11 found that they were more familiar with Budweiser's television frogs than Kellogg's Tony the Tiger, the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, or Smokey the Bear.

Though the alcohol industry commonly makes statements against underage drinking, their commercials including required disclaimers that advise consumers to “drink responsibly,” obviously indicate their intentions otherwise.  If those profiting from these underage sales were truly serious about curbing under aged consumption they would change their advertising practices.  For there to ever be a shift in these troubling statistics, this will need to happen.

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