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TeenDrinking5It is easy to ignore the effects that advertising has on the habits of our teens, yet research suggests that exposure to specific marketing campaigns does, indeed, lead to unhealthy choices. One study (Wellman et al, 2006) found that exposure to tobacco marketing increased smoking by teens, and another (Hastings et al) concluded that food marketing increases food intake and the likelihood of obesity. Alcoholism, too, is a risk, with various longitudinal studies showing a link between exposure to alcohol advertising, and increased consumption.

Important findings include:

  • 12-year-olds who are heavily exposed to alcohol advertising are 50 per cent more likely to start drinking one year later compared to those who are only slightly exposed to similar material (Collins et al, 2007).
  • Teenage males who own a promotional item from an alcohol manufacturer are almost twice as likely to start drinking alcohol than male teens who do not own these items; statistics are similar for female teens (for whom percentages are slightly lower). (McClure et al, 2009).
  • Teens who have been heavily exposed to alcohol marketing tend to drink greater amounts than those who are slightly exposed to similar material. (Snyder et al, 2006)
  • Youths who watch 60 per cent more alcohol advertising are 44 per cent more likely to have ever drunk beer and 26 per cent more likely to have consumed three or more alcoholic beverages on one occasion. ((Stacy et al, 2004).

In one important study carried out by researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, it was found that one in every three youths choose a brand of alcohol based on advertising and marketing. The reasons for the choice of a specific brand include:

  • Fondnessfor a particular celebrity or brand ambassador who endorses a specific alcoholic product.
  • Taste: Some youths choose a particular brand because they expect that it will taste good.
  • Price: Youths can make their selection based on the low cost of some items.
  • Emulation: Youths can opt for a particular brand because they see adults drinking it or see movie or television stars make the same choice.

Those who see alcohol as a lesser problem for youths in the U.S, should think again: alcohol is the most commonly abused drug among teens in America; it causes over 4,000 deaths among youths, every year. Research shows that around 70 per cent of 12th grade students have consumed alcohol and the problem extends to younger students, with around 13 per cent of eight graders admitting that they have consumed alcohol in the previous 30 days.

Meanwhile, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2013) found that among high school students, in the 30 days prior to the survey, 21 per cent engaged in binge drinking, 10 per cent drove after drinking alcohol, and 22 per cent rode in a car driven by a person who had been drinking. Some 35 per cent in total consumed some amount of alcohol.

As a whole, it can be said that exposure to marketing and advertisements promoting alcohol, is linked to a greater chance of teens starting to drink, and of teens drinking more than counterparts who have not been bombarded with promotional material. It is therefore vital that parents and teachers enlighten teens on these findings, so that they become more aware about the link between what they view, and the choices they make. They should also be presented with the facts: alcohol and drugs are the leading factors in teen suicide, over 23 million people aged 12 and above are addicted to alcohol or drugs, and there is a direct relationship between addiction and poor academic results.

Of course, advertising is not the only reason teens use drugs and consume alcohol. Other factors are in play, which should be recognized and addressed by parents and teachers. These include the influence of other teens, escape, boredom, rebellion and instant gratification. For others still, drugs and alcohol are a way to gain the confidence they might not otherwise have. These people may use alcohol to rid themselves of inhibition and social anxiety. Finally, misinformation is one of the biggest culprits as far as abuse and addiction are concerned. Most teenagers will come across friends who used drugs and alcohol, yet seem to be functioning at school and socially. It is vital that schools and families work together to enlighten children on the pure, unadulterated facts regarding drugs and alcohol.

It is easy to ignore the effects that advertising has on the habits of our teens, yet research suggests that exposure to specific marketing campaigns does, indeed, lead to unhealthy choices. One study (Wellman et al, 2006) found that exposure to tobacco marketing increased smoking by teens, and another (Hastings et al) concluded that food marketing increases food intake and the likelihood of obesity. Alcoholism, too, is a risk, with various longitudinal studies showing a link between exposure to alcohol advertising, and increased consumptionImportant findings include:

  • 12-year-olds who are heavily exposed to alcohol advertising are 50 per cent more likely to start drinking one year later compared to those who are only slightly exposed to similar material (Collins et al, 2007).
  • Teenage males who own a promotional item from an alcohol manufacturer are almost twice as likely to start drinking alcohol than male teens who do not own these items; statistics are similar for female teens (for whom percentages are slightly lower). (McClure et al, 2009).
  • Teens who have been heavily exposed to alcohol marketing tend to drink greater amounts than those who are slightly exposed to similar material. (Snyder et al, 2006)
  • Youths who watch 60 per cent more alcohol advertising are 44 per cent more likely to have ever drunk beer and 26 per cent more likely to have consumed three or more alcoholic beverages on one occasion. ((Stacy et al, 2004).

In one important study carried out by researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, it was found that one in every three youths choose a brand of alcohol based on advertising and marketing. The reasons for the choice of a specific brand include:

  • Fondnessfor a particular celebrity or brand ambassador who endorses a specific alcoholic product.
  • Taste: Some youths choose a particular brand because they expect that it will taste good.
  • Price: Youths can make their selection based on the low cost of some items.
  • Emulation: Youths can opt for a particular brand because they see adults drinking it or see movie or television stars make the same choice.

Those who see alcohol as a lesser problem for youths in the U.S, should think again: alcohol is the most commonly abused drug among teens in America; it causes over 4,000 deaths among youths, every year. Research shows that around 70 per cent of 12th grade students have consumed alcohol and the problem extends to younger students, with around 13 per cent of eight graders admitting that they have consumed alcohol in the previous 30 days.

Meanwhile, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2013) found that among high school students, in the 30 days prior to the survey, 21 per cent engaged in binge drinking, 10 per cent drove after drinking alcohol, and 22 per cent rode in a car driven by a person who had been drinking. Some 35 per cent in total consumed some amount of alcohol.

As a whole, it can be said that exposure to marketing and advertisements promoting alcohol, is linked to a greater chance of teens starting to drink, and of teens drinking more than counterparts who have not been bombarded with promotional material. It is therefore vital that parents and teachers enlighten teens on these findings, so that they become more aware about the link between what they view, and the choices they make. They should also be presented with the facts: alcohol and drugs are the leading factors in teen suicide, over 23 million people aged 12 and above are addicted to alcohol or drugs, and there is a direct relationship between addiction and poor academic results.

Of course, advertising is not the only reason teens use drugs and consume alcohol. Other factors are in play, which should be recognized and addressed by parents and teachers. These include the influence of other teens, escape, boredom, rebellion and instant gratification. For others still, drugs and alcohol are a way to gain the confidence they might not otherwise have. These people may use alcohol to rid themselves of inhibition and social anxiety. Finally, misinformation is one of the biggest culprits as far as abuse and addiction are concerned. Most teenagers will come across friends who used drugs and alcohol, yet seem to be functioning at school and socially. It is vital that schools and families work together to enlighten children on the pure, unadulterated facts regarding drugs and alcohol.

Contributor: Helen Canning – Now working primarily as a writer, Helen Canning used to work in the health care sector, initially in social care. After battling her own problems with depression and stress, she decided to leave the pressure of her job behind and become a stay-at-home writer. It fits in perfectly with raising her two children and means she can pen articles on the topics she knows most about.

If you feel your teen is struggling with an alcohol problem, don’t waste time in seeking them help. If you have exhausted your local resources and feel outside options might be your last resort, contact us for information on what’s available for your teen’s individual needs.

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