Is Exposure to Alcohol Ads a Bad Influence on Minors?

Many countries are now banning alcohol advertisements in public places, especially near schools. This has started a debate on whether minors are adversely influenced when exposed to alcohol advertisements. While opponents claim otherwise, proponents of the ban feel it does affect minors in a bad way. So, what’s the truth amidst all this hype?

The Purpose of Alcohol Advertisements
Alcohol advertisements are primarily meant to influence our choice of alcohol and not how we drink alcohol. This is the reason alcohol manufacturers don’t advertise their products on television when minors viewership is high. On the other hand, when the age of the viewers increase, those programs do allow alcohol advertisements and this has been a sore point with parents and activists who claim alcohol advertisements are sending adolescents to alcohol drug rehab, as the purpose of the advertisements is lost.

What Do Researchers Say?
RAND, a non-profit organization, conducted a study and found school kids from grades 7th to 9th can be adversely influenced by alcohol advertisements. This study took into account just the advertisements shown during late night shows, such as Saturday Night Live, David Letterman and Jay Leno. However, the study doesn’t really reveal whether it is the ads that influence kids or it is the staying up late that pushes minors to alcohol.

Researchers from University of Texas beg to differ, as their study shows there is no connection between alcohol ads and minors. The study does state that alcohol manufacturers have increased their advertising budget in the last four decades, but the overall consumption has remained steady.

The Verdict
While there are many studies that support both opponents and proponents of alcohol advertisements, scientific studies have shown that minors are affected and influenced by their parents and friends. Of course, this doesn’t take away the influence of advertisements, but compared to other factors, this impact is marginal. So, if more minors today are being sent to alcohol drug rehab, it has more to do with their home environment and social circles. One can’t really blame alcohol ads for this rise in alcohol abuse among minors.