STUDY: Advertising Is Encouraging Binge Drinking

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Limiting advertising for beer, liquor and wine is the real solution to keep young people from drinking in excess.Legislators say they charge excise taxes on alcohol to curb heavy drinking.

But, not surprisingly, bingedrinkers aren’t deterred by paying a little extra for their booze, according to a recent study led by Henry Saffer at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Higher taxes are more likely to deter moderate drinkers.

The real solution is to limit advertising and television portrayals of alcohol, Saffer says. Putting out fewer messages can keep heavy drinkers at bay, while moderate consumers are just as likely to drink.

Seeing images of alcohol consumption on TV makes it more appealing to teens, Saffer says.

Alcohol advertising on T.V. is “substantial,” according to the study:

The advertising- to-sales ratio for alcohol is about 5 per cent, while the typical industry advertising-to-sales ratio is about 2 to 3 per cent. Data from Kantar Media show that alcohol advertising just on TV was about $1.1 billion in 2009. There has not been much change in the overall level of expenditures on alcohol advertising on TV between 2002 and 2009. However, annual hours of alcohol advertising on national TV increased by about 50 per cent and local TV hours declined by about 20 per cent.

The authors studied National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 97 from 2002-09. The study’s authors say their findings could be important for how to relate alcohol consumption. 

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