A few days ago, this page suggested that federal laws are needed to regulate the advertising of alcoholic beverages just as such laws regulate the advertising of tobacco.
We did so not just because the National Commission Against Drunken Driving recently came to the same conclusion. Rather, we did so because so much liquor advertising seems to be aimed at young people - and because twice as many young Americans die in alcohol-related accidents as adults do.Now Surgeon General C. Everett Koop is calling for restrictions on alcohol advertising, particularly where young people are involved.
Moreover a new study provides even more ammunition to those calling for a crackdown on commercials for booze.
A survey conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that young children can usually name more alcoholic beverages than they can name American presidents. Guess why? Because of youngsters' constant exposure to advertising for alcoholic beverages, particularly on television. Among the children cited in the new survey were:
- A 10-year-old girl who could name only four presidents but rattled off the names of 14 different booze products.
- An 11-year-old boy who correctly spelled Bud Light, Matilda Bay, and King Cobra but couldn't do any better on the presidents than "Nickerson" and "Rosselvet."
- Another 11-year-old boy who listed eight brands of beer but thought there were 16 inches in a foot.
- A seven-year-old boy who named 10 brands of beers, wine coolers, and liquors plus six presidents - including "Aprilham Linchon" and "Ragon."
Such findings indicate the extent to which advertising makes booze part of the daily life of children so young they cannot legally drink for another 10 years.
Keep in mind a previous study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which concluded that "a significant amount of alcohol advertising is unfair and deceptive." Why? Because, among other reasons, the ads are often aimed at particularly vulnerable groups such as the young and heavy drinkers.
Keep in mind, too, that alcohol is the most widely abused drug in the country. About 13-million Americans are alcoholics. More than three-million of those alcoholics are in the 14-17 age group.
If all that doesn't add up to an air-tight case for tough curbs on booze ads, it's hard to imagine what else it would take.