Category Archives: News

Liability Laws Make Parents Responsible for Underage Drinking in Their Home

Parents who allow their teens to have friends over to drink, thinking it’s a safe way to keep them off the roads, may be surprised to find they are subject to liability laws that make them vulnerable to lawsuits, fines and jail time.

Parents in some states can be liable even if they were not aware that drinking was going on in their home, according to the Associated Press. One Stanford University professor was arrested in November after his 17-year-old son had a party in the basement. The professor, Bill Burnett, said he had forbidden alcohol at the party and had twice checked on the teens. He spent one night in jail and was booked on 44 counts of suspicion of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Each count carries up to a $2,500 fine and almost a year in jail.

Eight states have “social host” laws that make parents liable if underage guests in their home are drinking, even if no harm comes to anyone, the AP reports. In some of the states, parents are allowed to serve alcohol to their own children in certain situations.

In 16 other states, laws hold parents responsible for underage drinking in some circumstances, such as if a teenager who drank in their home was in a car accident.

Research conducted by Students Against Destructive Decisions, and co-sponsored by the insurance company Liberty Mutual, found 41 percent of teens say their parents allow them to go to parties where alcohol is being served, compared with 36 percent two years ago.


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

To Steer Teens Clear of Substance Abuse, Keep Them Moving, Study Suggests

Teenagers who are involved in sports or exercising are less likely to use drugs and smoke cigarettes compared with teens who are not as active, a new study suggests. However, Reuters reports that the study found high school athletes on teams drank more alcohol than their classmates who weren’t on a team.

Data from more than 11,000 teens, who graduated between 1986 and 2001, was included in the study. They were first surveyed as high school seniors, and then surveyed again up to four times through age 26. The researchers found that higher levels of participation in sports, athletics or exercising was related to lower initial use of drugs and cigarettes, which in turn led to lower substance use throughout early adulthood. In those who increased their activity level throughout early adulthood, frequency of use of cigarettes, marijuana and illicit drugs other than marijuana decreased, the researchers report in the journal Addiction.

The research found that about 38 percent of teens who weren’t active said they smoked cigarettes during the past month, compared with 25 to 29 percent of teens who were frequent exercisers and athletes. Among inactive teens, 23 percent said they had smoked marijuana in the last month, compared with 15 to 17 percent of active and athletic teens.

The study also revealed that 57 percent of teens involved in a team sport said they drank alcohol in the last month, compared with 45 percent of teens who weren’t active. Reuters reports that the researchers have many theories about why student athletes drink more, including peer pressure to drink after a game and the close tie between sports and alcohol advertising.


Doctors Find that Synthetic Marijuana Causes Psychosis

The Los Angeles Times reported this week that synthetic marijuana, known on the street as Spice, can cause a lengthy bout of psychosis in some users, according to research presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting held this week in Honolulu. Doctors at the Naval Hospital San Diego reported on 10 patients who were hospitalized for psychosis after using Spice. The synthetic cannabis is also known as K2, Blaze or Red X Dawn. The drug consists of plant material coated with synthetic chemicals meant to produce a high similar to marijuana. However, symptoms in the 10 patients, who were ages 21 to 25, included auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoid delusions and thoughts of suicide. Most of the patients recovered from the psychosis in five to eight days but symptoms lasted as long as three months in some people. Synthetic marijuana has become an issue in the military, in substance-abuse treatment facilities and other settings because it cannot be detected in standard, urine-based drug tests. Last year, the DEA banned five chemicals found in K2. However, the ban will last only one year with an option to extend the ban for an additional six months. A bill introduced by Senators Grassley and Feinstein would permanently schedule 15 of the source chemicals identified in K2 and similar products, and place them as Schedule I narcotics. Coalitions across the country have been working to permanently ban the chemicals, as well.


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.”


Study On Teen Substance Abuse Highlights Need for Screening and Prevention Programs

A new study showing marked increases in teen use of marijuana and Ecstasy over the past three years underscores the importance of incorporating screening and prevention programs into all health care interactions with adolescents and their parents, says a leading expert on adolescent substance abuse treatment.

“Any time professionals have an option to work with parents or teenagers, even if it’s not directly about a substance abuse issue, they should be putting drug use on the radar screen,” says Ken Winters, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research, Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota, and Research Scientist at Treatment Research Institute. “Many health care settings don’t have the luxury of specialized and expensive drug treatment, but a quick screening and a brief discussion about drug use should be more achievable in pediatric and other adolescent health settings.”

Teen Drinking Normalized

Dr. Winters said the findings of the 22nd annual Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS), released by The Partnership at and MetLife Foundation earlier this month, echo the reality that substance abuse treatment professionals see every day. The study shows that underage drinking has become more normalized among adolescents. Of those teens who reported alcohol use, 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, 25 percent said they drank a full alcoholic drink for the first time by age 12 or younger. Almost half of teens (45 percent) said they do not see a great risk in heavy daily drinking.

Age of first use is critically important: research has shown that more than 40 percent of those who start drinking at age 14 or younger developed alcohol dependence, compared with 10 percent of those who began drinking at age 20 or older.

The study also found that marijuana use is on the rise. Past-year marijuana use among teens increased by 22 percent (from 32 percent in 2008 to 39 percent in 2010). There was a 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).

Prescription Drug Abuse

The PATS survey touched on an issue that parents are often unaware of: teen abuse of prescription medicines. The data found that 25 percent of teens reported taking a prescription drug not prescribed to them by a doctor at least once in their lives, and 23 percent used a prescription pain reliever not prescribed to them by a doctor. “Health care professionals need to alert parents that if they’re taking prescription drugs, they can’t just take the medicine home and put it in an unsecure place —that’s risky,” Dr. Winters says. “Parents are often surprised to find out how common it is for teenagers to take medication from the medicine chest and use it or sell it. We have to remind them not only to monitor their prescriptions, but also to dispose of unused medications with the many drug disposal programs that are now available.”


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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