Category Archives: Alcohol Abuse

Too many alcohol ads reaching youth on the radio?

So says the latest analysis conducted by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which notes almost one out of 11 alcohol radio ads in 75 markets across the nation in 2009 failed to comply with the industry’s voluntary standard for the placement of advertising.

The report recalls that in 2003, trade groups for beer and distilled spirits (i.e. The Distilled Spirits Council DISCUS) committed to placing alcohol ads in media venues only when underage youth comprise less than or equal to 30% of the audience, since 30% of the audience is 20 years old or younger. However, the CAMY analysis found that 9% of the ads in 75 markets (accounting for almost 50% of radio listeners age 12+) failed to meet the industry standards. These markets represent 46.5% of the U.S. population age 12+. Three brands alone – Miller Lite, Bud Light, and Coors Light – placed more than half of these “violating” ads.

Note that DISCUS in May upped the demographic placement standard in its Code of Responsible Advertising Practices to reflect the 2010 Census data released showing that 71.6% of the U.S. population is 21+. Under the new guideline, beverage alcohol advertising and marketing should be placed in media only where at least 71.6% of the audience is reasonably expected to be above the legal purchase age (21+). The previous standard was set at 70% that was expected to be above the age of 21+, from 2000 Census data.

The National Research Council, the Institute of Medicine and 24 state attorneys general have called on the alcohol industry to beef up its standard and meet a “proportional” 15% placement standard, given the fact that the group most at risk for underage drinking – 12-20 year-olds – is approximately 15% of the U.S. population.

“A nine percent failure rate for an already weak standard means that a significant number of young people are being overexposed to alcohol advertising on the radio,” said Dr. David Jernigan, CAMY director. “Reducing the voluntary standard to 15% would go a long way to keeping our young people safe and away from the undue influence of alcohol marketing.”

Distilled spirits were the most common type of alcohol advertisement to overexpose youth audiences in PPM markets. In diary markets, where the PPM is not yet in use and where people kept a paper diary of radio listening in 15-minute increments throughout the day, beer and alcopops advertising was most likely to overexpose youth.

In the majority of the 11 markets where Arbitron’s Portable People Meters were deployed for all of 2009, girls ages 12-20 were more likely than boys of the same age to be exposed to advertising for alcopops, distilled spirits, and wine.

Other findings:
• In 2009, youth ages 12-20 were more likely per capita than adults to hear 32% of alcohol advertising placements.

• 15 brands garnered 25% or more of their exposure to youth in at least 10% of markets from advertising not in compliance with the industry’s 30% standard.

RBR-TVBR observation: The 9% failure rate is not all that bad, considering the rapidly-changing demographics this nation is experiencing—including the increasing number of youth, as borne out in the 2010 census. DISCUS promptly adjusted the recommended numbers after the 2010 census came out. Discus now says no ads should be aired when 28.4% of the audience is expected to be below the legal purchase age of 21; The National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine want that number to be at 15%. We figure that lower number would pretty much guarantee a 0% failure rate. But don’t expect the industry to jump at it—as well, radio is happy to get alcohol’s ad dollars and considering format flips and additional PPM markets added in 2009, the 9% failure statistic may be a little skewed to begin with

Source: RBR/TVBR website

Study Connects Binge Drinking to Advertising

Advertising effectively promotes alcohol brands to teens, researchers from Dartmouth Medical School and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found in a study published in this month’s issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Dartmouth pediatricians Susanne Tanski, Auden McClure and James Sargent found a correlation between alcohol companies’ annual advertising expenditures and underage drinkers’ preferred brands in the study “Alcohol Brand Preference and Binge Drinking among Adolescents.”

The researchers also found that respondents who said they had a favorite brand were significantly more likely to report having engaged in binge drinking than those who did not specify a favorite. “

Youths chose distilled spirit brands in large numbers, brands preferred by youth have tended to have high advertising expenditures, and choosing a favorite brand was associated with binge drinking,” the researchers concluded.

“The important take-home message is that kids who said they have a favorite brand were far more likely to binge drink,” Tanski said in a Dartmouth news release.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said they had a favorite brand of alcohol, with Smirnoff and Budweiser leading as the first and second favorite brands among women, respectively, and Budweiser and Smirnoff as the first and second favorite brands among men.

The correlation between binge drinking and brand favoritism “suggests that the ‘drink responsibly’ message is being swamped by other advertising messages that associate alcohol brands with partying and drinking to excess,” Tanski said, citing a recent Captain Morgan rum commercial as an example.

Future studies will also measure brand consumption, according to David Jernigan, an author of the study and associate professor at the Bloomberg School. He told The Dartmouth that half of the respondents chose a distilled spirits brand as their drink of choice.

CADCA is developing a video tool and publication to help coalitions address college-age binge drinking. Stay tuned.

Source: CADCA

Parenting 101

June 2011

1.   Our 16yr old daughter has started dating an 18yr old “boy” who we hear has been known to drink and use drugs. Although our daughter exhibits no symptoms or behaviors suggesting she’s using too, we are anxious and worried about how to handle this situation. What should we do?

You have good reason to be concerned. Teens who socialize with others who drink and use are far more likely to do so themselves, but the danger does not stop there. If this boy is drinking and using, she’s at much greater risk for being involved in an automobile crash, being a victim of dating violence and/or rape, or facing legal consequences secondary to being around illicit substances or intoxicated minors. The first step should be to sit down and have an “adult” conversation with your daughter. Do your best to use only statements that start with ‘I’ and avoid saying ‘you’ – this will prevent you from making any accusations, either intentionally or unintentionally. If your daughter does not feel attacked, judged or criticized, she will be much more likely to listen to what you have to say. Carefully share your concerns about the situation, including the legal ramifications for him, if anything should happen to her.

Use statements such as: ‘I understand that older boys are more attractive because they’re more mature and experienced, however, I also understand that he is in a different place in life, that he is considered an ‘adult’ legally, and will want to seek out adult activities and interests which are not appropriate for someone who is 16”; and other statements like, “ I cannot know for sure, but the word from others is that he is not making very good decisions and chooses inappropriate activities.  It would devastate me to learn that he may try to involve you in these activities.”

Then allow her to talk and carefully listen to see if she seems fully aware of the issues that are involved with dating an older person.  Based on what you daughter tells you, you can decide whether to restrict this relationship.  It’s obvious that any unsupervised time they spend together is potentially dangerous.  While it’s not necessarily true that she is joining in his activities, it is true that he is not to be trusted.

Discussions of the same nature with this young man (and his family) are also in order. If he denies drug use, ask him to take a urine drug screen (most effective if done without prior notice). Although these measures are certainly not the most comfortable to take, you owe it to your daughter to do all in your power to protect her. She is still a child and it’s your responsibility to provide that protection.

2. The other day as I was putting away my 14yo son’s laundry, I discovered plastic baggies in his drawer – one contained several different kinds of pills and the other had what I assume to be marijuana. I haven’t said anything to him yet – I’m terrified of his response. His behavior has been somewhat rebellious lately but nothing I would consider uncharacteristic for a 14 year old boy. I don’t know how to handle this. Help!

98% of the time in this type of situation the young person is definitely involved in using illegal substances and has been for some time but has successfully deceived his parents.  What allows this behavior to not only continue but to also develop, is the fact that most parents have this same reaction – they are terrified and do not know how to proceed without fear of losing their loving relationship with their child.  His response is likely to be extreme, substance abusing or addicted children are volatile far in excess of the already significant amount 14 year olds are. Those who begin using drugs by age fourteen have a strong chance of developing an addiction, far greater than if that use does not start until later years. His current use is doing serious damage to the development of his brain, which is in a critical stage at this period of his life.

We strongly suggest you seek professional help.  Both parents should not waste any time in taking this child to an adolescent drug treatment center, where each person will be interviewed and the teen will be drug tested (so don’t tell your son ahead of time).  He will likely not understand or grasp any of this and be highly resistant, but remember he is a child and he needs you to be a parent, which means often being unpopular with your child. If his reaction is extreme, look at it and ask yourself this: Is this a child in control and healthy, or is this a child in desperate need of help? The center will provide assessment, evaluation and suggestions.  This process is free at many centers in the area and works best because it is far more objective in the evaluation and suggestions.  It will avoid arguments about what is true and not true because chances are great that your child will deny any ‘accusation’ you make.  It is critical to know that the longer parents wait the more difficult it will be to remediate the situation.  It will not be a pleasant experience for you, but it is your duty to deal with this and it will be far less unpleasant than attending his funeral or sentencing. Please confiscate the drugs and call your local treatment center immediately for a referral and/or assessment!

The questions above are from parents who live in the South Bay. The responses have been provided by members of the South Bay Coalition whose expertise and experience lies in parenting, counseling, and/or substance abuse prevention. The South Bay Coalition is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth. For local resources or more information, please visit our website or contact:

Parenting 101

May 2011
1. Our 14yo son admitted to smoking pot once – he seems genuinely remorseful and swears it won’t happen again but I’m not sure where we go from here. Should we ground him, drug test him, or what? Advice?
Good for you for taking this seriously! While there certainly are some young people who try pot once and do not like it, there are far more that tell their parents what they think they want to know to avoid getting caught. Without some specific information it is difficult to tell you whether to ground him or not, but two good general guidelines to go by are 1) to honor any consequence he was told there would be before hand and 2) to know that to effectively ground your child, you have to ground yourself also. It is important to discuss with him the circumstances around his use so that you can help him avoid the factors that led to that poor decision.

Drug testing is absolutely appropriate and warranted. It serves the purpose of giving you some objective data regarding his drug free status, but perhaps more importantly it gives him an extra reason to say “no” next time the opportunity to smoke pot arises. Knowing he may be held accountable can be a powerful tool to help him make good decisions. For testing to be meaningful it needs to be done randomly, and frequently for awhile. If cause for suspicion is given, testing should be done by a reputable facility, under observation, and he needs not to know when it will be done (this is one test you do not want him studying to pass!).

Also make sure to keep his attitude and beliefs about Marijuana an open topic of discussion between you and him. He is at an age when attitudes and beliefs can change drastically and quickly. Try to learn how he forms his views and take the opportunity to both teach specific information about Marijuana and to teach about decision making.

It is a known fact that children do such a good job of covering their tracks while using drugs that the average parent learns about their child’s serious drug problem about a year after it starts. Knowing this, it is difficult to take the risk of not being pro-active. Being pro-active is a far cry from being over reactive. An over reactive parent will begin spying on their child and make all kinds of unreasonable restrictions that are not predicated on things their child did, but on what they think the child is doing. A pro-active parent begins paying closer attention to where their child spends their spare time, who they hang with, their attitude towards themselves and others, and takes note to see if anything adds up to possible personality change.

2. My husband and I met in AA more than 15 years ago and have been clean and sober ever since. Our kids are 9 & 10 and I’m afraid their questions about whether we’ve ever used alcohol and drugs are just around the corner. When they ask, how honest should we be?

Congratulations on your and your husband’s recovery successes! Your question is a common challenge for many parents. When dealing with your children’s questions it is important to remember that honest and open are two different qualities. There is never a legitimate reason to be dishonest with your child; and real and long lasting damage can come from even seemingly harmless amounts of lying. There is, however, no requirement for complete openness or graphic description. Children can also be harmed by graphic disclosure that is neither age nor relationship appropriate. The best approach is to explain to them that you did make mistakes as a youth, and offer to share with them what you learned from these experiences. When it comes to the specific details of the things you did, explain to them that the greatest value for you is the knowledge you gained from learning to make the right decisions, and one of the most helpful things you learned was to leave the bad memories in the past. It is not only o.k. but healthy to keep the detailed description of “what it was like” limited. Where exactly to draw the line is certainly a subjective and tricky field to negotiate and you may find benefit in speaking to other recovering parents about their experiences or seeking some targeted guidance from an appropriate professional.

It will be very important that your children understand the disease concept and their own increased risk for a chemical dependency due to genetics. It is important that they understand that you and your husband are very fortunate to be clean and sober and leading productive lives and that most people who fall into the clutches of alcohol and other drugs do not escape.

And through it all remember that you are their parent not their friend (these are mutually exclusive roles) and that it is absolutely all right to strive to not have your children repeat your mistakes. Never let the “You can’t discipline me for it because you did it” argument hold any water, it doesn’t.

The questions above are from parents who live in the South Bay. The responses have been provided by members of the South Bay Coalition whose expertise and experience lies in parenting, counseling, and/or substance abuse prevention. The South Bay Coalition is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth. For local resources or more information, please visit our website or contact:

Parenting 101

April 2011

1. My 14yo son has always been a good kid – good grades, well-behaved, active in sports, etc. Lately he’s been spending a lot of time alone in his room on the computer – becoming withdrawn and secretive and gets fairly agitated when I come into his room. How much privacy should I allow him? And should I worry about other issues like drugs? Thank you.

Age 14 is a typical age when young adults need more privacy. Most often they are dealing with their own emerging sexuality. Your son sounds like a child of great parenting. A rule of thumb about privacy is that everyone should be given the privacy they ask for. However, privacy, like privileges, must be earned. We would suggest you regularly check the websites visited by your son. This is different than directly reading your son’s e-mails or journal, a level of privacy invasion that would need very, very serious circumstances to justify. (If you’re not sure how to do this, computer experts at Office Depot, Best Buy, etc. should be able to give you a quick lesson on the phone.) Knowing what sites are being visited is appropriate information for a parent to review, and really all parents who allow their children internet access should monitor this. The content your son chooses to view may help guide you to some of the issues he is struggling with.

His being withdrawn, secretive and agitated when you come into his room is definitely cause for concern, but does not in and of itself point to drugs. If it is determined that your son is not viewing inappropriate web sites or engaging in irresponsible behavior then allow him the privacy he asks for. It is your responsibility as the parent to make sure his behavior in his room is appropriate. A good adolescent family counselor may be in order either way.

2. My 12yo daughter is a late bloomer – most of her friends are already interested in boys, clothes, and make-up. Because my daughter isn’t, some of her “friends” are starting to call her names and imply that she’s gay. She is becoming very stressed and now she dreads going to school. I need advice on how to handle this situation.

It’s good to see you put “friends” in quotations as their behavior clearly shows that they are not performing that role in your daughter’s life…which doesn’t mean that your daughter does not consider them friends or that leaving them for new ones would be an easy and/or simple transition for her. School authorities do need to be made aware of what is going on as this falls under bullying behavior which is beginning to be taken more seriously by schools. Reassure your daughter frequently that she is just fine and that her lack of interest in boys, clothes and make up at age 12 is perfectly normal and healthy. Try to find ways to increase her interaction with other girls who are aging appropriately. Proactively seeking out positive interaction is usually a far easier task than cutting off negative interaction. If her level of ongoing emotional distress warrants it, seek professional counseling or therapy for her.
It is one thing to be drawn to others who are most similar to you, so it is part of the natural path of teens that they shift friends due to changing interests. However, it is not natural, okay, or acceptable to attack others who are different (or you perceive to be different) from you. Definitely seek some help from the school guidance team.

The questions above are from parents who live in the South Bay. The responses have been provided by members of the South Bay Coalition whose expertise and experience lies in parenting, counseling, and/or substance abuse prevention. The South Bay Coalition is a non-profit partnership of agencies working to prevent substance abuse among our community’s youth. For local resources or more information, please visit our website or contact:

Study Finds that Internet Use Can Lead to Risky Behavior

Medical News Today reports that there is a strong association between computer and internet use in teens and risky behavior including drug use, drunkenness and unprotected sex.

“This research is based on social cognitive theory, which suggests that seeing people engaged in a behavior is a way of learning that behavior,” explained lead researcher Valerie Carson, a doctoral candidate in School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. “Since adolescents are exposed to considerable screen time – over 4.5 hours on average each day – they’re constantly seeing images of behaviors they can then potentially adopt.”

This research, recently published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine, suggests that future studies should examine the specific content adolescents are being exposed to in order to help strengthen current screen time guidelines for youth.

The researchers found that high computer use was associated with approximately 50 per cent increased engagement with a cluster of six multiple risk behaviors, including smoking, drunkenness, non-use of seatbelts, cannabis and illicit drug use, and unprotected sex. High television use was also associated with a modestly increased engagement in these behaviors.

One explanation behind this finding is that a considerable amount of advertising that used to be shown on TV is now being shown on the Internet. In addition, computer usage by adolescents has increased considerably in recent years.

“TV and video games have more established protocols in terms of censorship, but Internet protocols aren’t as established,” Carson said. “Parents can make use of programs that control access to the Internet, but adolescents in this age group are quite savvy about technology and the Internet. It’s possible that these types of controls aren’t effective in blocking all undesirable websites.”


17 Attorneys General Call on Pabst to Stop Marketing Blast to Young Drinkers

Calling the new fruity alcoholic drink Blast by Colt 45 “binge-in-a-can,” 17 attorneys general are asking the drink’s maker, Pabst Brewing Co., to stop marketing the beverage to underage drinkers and to significantly reduce the number of servings of alcohol in each can.

The drink, being promoted by rapper Snoop Dogg, comes in a colorful can containing 23.5 ounces, with an alcohol content of 12 percent—more than most cans of beer, CNN reports.

The letter to Pabst was written by Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and signed by the attorneys general for Arizona, California, Connecticut, Guam, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Washington and the city attorney of San Francisco.

In a press release, Gansler says, “Anyone who consumes a can of Blast within an hour will have engaged in binge drinking as defined by public health authorities.” He added, “At a time when we’re fighting to prevent underage and binge drinking, we call upon Pabst to rethink the dangers posed by Blast, promoted by a popular hip-hop celebrity, as a ‘binge-in-a-can’ in sweet flavors and bright colors aimed at the youngest drinkers…I hope our letter asking Pabst to take swift and responsible action will also be heeded by other companies who produce these unsafe ‘supersized’ alcopops.”

CNN reports that Pabst Chief Marketing Officer, Jon Sayer, responded in a written statement that Blast is only meant to be consumed by those above legal drinking age. “As with all Pabst products, our marketing efforts for Blast are focused on conveying the message of drinking responsibly,” the statement said. “To that end, the alcohol content of Blast is clearly marked on its packaging.”


National Study Confirms Teen Drug Use Trending in Wrong Direction

Following a decade of steady declines, a new national study released today indicates that teen drug and alcohol use is headed in the wrong direction, with marked increases in teen use of marijuana and Ecstasy over the past three years. The 22nd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) affirms a disturbing trend that has emerged among American teens since 2008 and highlights that as underage drinking becomes more normalized among adolescents, parents feel unable to respond to the negative shifts in teen drug and alcohol use. The study was released by The Partnership at and MetLife Foundation.

According to the three-year trend confirmed in this year’s 2010 PATS data, there was a significant 67 percent increase in the number of teens who reported using Ecstasy in the past year (from 6 percent in 2008 to 10 percent in 2010). Similarly, past-year marijuana use among teens increased by a disturbing 22 percent (from 32 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2010).

“You’re seeing this weakness in this generation of teens’ attitudes around drug and alcohol use,” Steve Pasierb, president of the partnership, told the Associated Press. “It’s not like this generation of kids thinks they’re more bulletproof than others, but they really don’t see any harm in that heavy drinking.”

The new data underscore alarming patterns in early adolescent alcohol use and found that teens view drinking alcohol – even heavy drinking – as less risky than using other substances.

• Of those teens who reported alcohol use, a majority (62 percent) said they had their first full alcoholic drink by age 15, not including sipping or tasting alcohol.

• Of those teens who reported alcohol use, one in four (25 percent), said they drank a full alcoholic drink for the first time by age 12 or younger.

• Among teens who reported drinking alcohol, the average age of first alcohol use was 14


Four Loko and Joose: Coming to Your Grocery Store

Don’t look now, but Four Loko and Joose could be in your grocery store soon.

Both sweetened, high-alcohol products used to include caffeine and were marketed as alcoholic energy drinks until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put the kibosh on the practice in December 2010. The manufacturers reformulated the beverages without caffeine and they’re now back on the market.

You’d think Phusion Projects, LLC, maker of Four Loko, would be hurting after a blow like that, but in spite of its cynical marketing and sales of “blackout in a can,” it claims to be doing just fine, thank you.

In a press release, the company said it had “become the best selling [sic] progressive adult beverage in the convenience store channel and one of the fastest growing products in the industry, making Phusion Projects the 11th largest marketer of alcoholic beverages in the U.S.”

I’m not sure what a “progressive adult beverage is,” but the news of the company’s success is plenty depressing, if true. To make matters worse, it says it will introduce Four Loko – with a still-hefty 8 percent alcohol — in 11-oz. glass bottles in “grocery, mass merchandise and drug stores.”

Now that may not sound like a big deal, but here’s the thing. The drink is usually packaged in enormous 23.5-oz, colorful bottles and can be found in convenience stores. Now, you’ll be able to find it at the grocery store – no extra stop needed – and it’ll look like your average bottle of beer (with alcohol content around 4 to 6 percent), yet packing a significantly bigger punch (8 percent).

As Cassie Greisen of Project Extra Mile, an advocacy group based in Nebraska, told the Omaha Herald, “It gives the illusion that you’re not drinking as much alcohol as you are.”

She’s concerned that the fruity flavors and colorful bottles will attract underage drinkers, most of whom binge drink. And based on the track record of Four Loko and other alcoholic energy drinks – linked as they were to multiple college students hospitalized on more than one campus – that’s a legitimate concern.

Meanwhile, United Brand Company, the maker of Four Loko’s competitor, Joose, isn’t sitting on its hands. Nope – according to this video advertisement for the drink, “great intelligence” (which, the ad tells us, has “no limits”), goes hand in hand with “great innovation.”

Wonder what that innovation might be? (Spoiler alert!) Joose will soon be available in 12-oz. glass bottles, at 8.5 percent alcohol. One can only assume that Joose, too, will be on grocery stores shelves soon.

Oh, joy.


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