Although federal regulations do not specifically prohibit alcohol advertisements that appeal to youth (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, 1991),1 a number of organizations and government entities have called on the alcohol industry to take a more disciplined approach to its advertising.
The Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission reviewed the alcohol industry advertising and marketing practices in a report released in September 1999. The FTC report called on the industry to "raise the current standard to reduce underage alcohol ad exposure" 2 and noted that some companies restrict advertising to venues where the underage audience is 25 percent or less.3
In 2008, the FTC issued its third report on alcohol industry self regulation.4 In this report, the FTC called on the alcohol industry to increase monitoring of alcohol advertisements, recommending that alcohol advertisements be allowed only where 70 percent or more of the audience is of legal drinking age. In response to the report, FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour issued a statement of dissent, recommending that the "Commission take a tougher stance against alcohol advertising to underage audiences. The alcohol industry should enhance its current self-regulatory guidelines by raising the baseline standard for alcohol advertisements to 75 percent."5
Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking
In 2007, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a call to action to prevent and reduce underage drinking. In this statement, the Surgeon General called on the alcohol industry to tighten its regulations regarding alcohol advertising considering the 80 million underage Americans for whom drinking is illegal. Public health agencies are encouraged to "conduct ongoing, independent monitoring of alcohol marketing to youth to ensure compliance with advertising standards."6
The National Academy of Sciences
Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility, a report released by two bodies of the National Academies-the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine-called for the industry to immediately begin placing its marketing in magazines and on television programs with a 25 percent or less underage audience, and to eventually move to a 15 percent standard.7
National Association of Attorneys General Youth Access to Alcohol Committee
In 2006, the FTC sent out a notice requesting public comments on proposed information requests to beverage alcohol manufacturers. In response to this request, the National Association of Attorneys General Youth Access to Alcohol Committee prepared a written comment signed by 20 state attorneys general in which they "encourage the Commission to explore with the industry and others the reduction of the industry standard from 30 percent to 15 percent, which standard would require that alcohol advertising be limited to media where no more than 15 percent of the audience is age 12-20."8
The American Medical Association
The American Medical Association has called for a statutory ban on all alcohol advertising except for inside retail and wholesale outlets.9
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Mothers Against Drunk Driving would limit advertising placements to audiences where the percentage under 21 is no greater than 10 percent.10
World Health Organization Global Strategy to Reduce Harmful Use of Alcohol
In May 2010, all 193 Member States of The World Health Organization endorsed a Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol. The marketing of alcohol to children is addressed:
"The exposure of children and young people to appealing marketing is of particular concern, as is the targeting of new markets in developing and low- and middle-income countries with a current low prevalence of alcohol consumption or high abstinence rates. Both the content of alcohol marketing and the amount of exposure of young people to that marketing are crucial issues. A precautionary approach to protecting young people against these marketing techniques should be considered."11
American Public Health Association
In November 2004, APHA passed a resolution urging the support and implementation of the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine's Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility report. It offers recommendations, including "[a]dvocating that Congress appropriate funding for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) to monitor underage exposure to alcohol advertising," and "[u]rging Congress to fund the USDHHS to enable them to conduct periodic reviews of movies, television, and music to ascertain the influence they have on youth alcohol consumption."12
American Academy of Pediatrics
In 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement regarding the harms to children from alcohol advertising. The AAP recommends that the "alcohol industry restrict advertising and product placement in venues in which more than 10 percent of the audience is children and adolescents."13
1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. Youth and Alcohol: Controlling Alcohol Advertising That Appeals to Youth. Washington, D.C: Department of Health and Human Services; 1991. Available from: http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-09-91-00654.pdf. Accessed November 21, 2010.
2. Federal Trade Commission. FTC reports on industry efforts to avoid promoting alcohol to underage consumers: Self-regulation can be effective, but third-party review needed. http://www.ftc.gov/opa/1999/09/alcoholrep.shtm. Accessed November 21, 2010.
3. Federal Trade Commission. Self Regulation in the Alcohol Industry: A Review of Industry Efforts to Avoid Promoting Alcohol to Underage Consumers. Washington, DC: Federal Trade Commission; 1999. Available from: http://www.ftc.gov/reports/alcohol/alcoholreport.shtm. Accessed November 21, 2010.
4. Federal Trade Commission. Self Regulation in the Alcohol Industry: Report of the Federal Trade Commission. Washington, DC: Federal Trade Commission; 2008. Available from: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2008/06/080626alcoholreport.pdf. Accessed November 21, 2010.
5. Federal Trade Commission. Statement of Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour concurring in part and dissenting in part regarding the 2008 report on self-regulation in the alcohol industry. Washington, DC: Federal Trade Commission; 2008; File No. P064505. Available from:http://www.ftc.gov/os/2008/06/080626commharboustmt.pdf. Accessed November 21, 2010.
6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking.Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2007. Available from:http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/underagedrinking/calltoaction.pdf. Accessed November 21, 2010.
7. Richard J. Bonnie and Mary Ellen O'Connell, ed. Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2004. National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.
8. National Association of Attorneys General Youth Access to Alcohol Committee. RE: Alcohol reports: Paperwork comment RE: FTC file no. P064505. Washington, DC: Federal Trade Commission; 2006. Available from:http://www.ftc.gov/os/comments/alcoholmanufacadstudy/522852-01287.pdf.
9. American Medical Association. AMA Policy Consolidation: Labeling, Advertising, and Promotion of Alcoholic Beverages. American Medical Association; 2004. Available from: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/443/a04csa1-fulltext.pdf. Accessed November 21, 2010.
10. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). MADD's positions on responsible marketing and service. http://www.madd.org/about-us/position-statements/madds-positions-on-1.html. Accessed November 21, 2010.
11. World Health Organization. Draft Global Strategy to Reduce The Harmful Use of Alcohol . Geneva: World Health Organization; 2010. Available from: http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/alcstrategyaftereb.pdf. Accessed November 21, 2010.
12. American Public Health Association. Reducing Underage Alcohol Consumption. American Public Health Association; 2004; Policy Number 2004-01. Available from: http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1280. Accessed November 21, 2010.
13. Strasburger VC, The Council on Communications and Media. Children, adolescents, substance abuse, and the media. Pediatrics. 2010;126(4):791-799. Available from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/126/4/791. Accessed November 21, 2010.
Updated November 22, 2010