Beam Global Spirits And Wine Vows To Reduce Youth Exposure To Alcohol Ads

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Alcohol Advertising

Alcohol policy researchers and legal analysts are commending Beam Global Spirits & Wine for issuing its Statement of Voluntary Principles for reducing youth exposure to the company's alcohol advertising.

The Statement includes a commitment to advertise only on television and radio programs or in magazines with less than 25 percent youth audiences, and to achieve annual aggregate average exposure for each of its brands in each medium of no more than 15 percent youth audiences. The company also agrees to refrain from producing flavored malt beverages (also referred to as "alcopops"). These are significantly more protective than current alcohol industry codes, which permit up to 30 percent youth audiences and permit the production of alcopops.

PIRE researchers and research from other organizations have found a link between exposure to alcohol advertising and underage drinking and have documented the popularity of alcopops among young teens, particularly adolescent girls. Beam Global, the largest distilled spirits company based in the U.S., and producers of such brands as Jim Beam, Makers Mark and Canadian Club, worked with state Attorneys General to develop these policies that curtail alcohol marketing to teens and young people.

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"This represents an important step in reducing youth exposure to alcohol advertising and establishes a commendable commitment to refrain from producing youth-oriented alcohol products," said Jim Mosher, an attorney and alcohol policy researcher for PIRE. "Research shows that youth exposure to alcohol advertising is directly related to underage drinking and the problems that often follow. Now is the time for other alcohol producers to follow this example."

In March, Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu issued a report calling on the alcohol industry to take voluntary action to insure that young people are not disproportionately exposed to messages about alcohol. The 2003 Institute of Medicine report Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility, concluded that young people are overexposed to alcohol advertising and limits by the alcohol industry could have a positive effect at reducing underage drinking. The report also found that the industry standard should be reduced to 25 percent instead of 30 percent, with an eventual goal of a 15 percent standard. The 15 percent standard is based on the fact that youth between the ages of 12-20 make up approximately 15 percent of the adult population age 12 and above.

The American Medical Association conducted a study that found that alcopops are most popular with teen girls. These drinks are heavily marketed to teens, according to the AMA, and teenage girls know about alcopops from the Internet and TV marketing campaigns. Teenage girls who see advertisements for alcopops think the drinks are popular within their age group, according to the AMA study. About 60 percent of teen girls who have seen these ads have also tried alcopops.

Beam Global's statement also includes a commitment not to market products on college campuses or in connection with Spring Break events. Additionally, the company says it will adopt enhanced standards for advertising at promotional events, and restrict brand name merchandise.

"There already is a growing body of research showing that alcohol advertising influences young people. Exposure to advertisements has been shown to create positive opinions about alcohol, stronger intentions to use alcohol, and more alcohol consumption," said James Copple, Senior Policy analyst for PIRE and Director of the International Institute for Alcohol Awareness. "These policies from Beam Global support the Surgeon General's Call to Action and the Institute of Medicine report on underage drinking, which urge alcohol industry members to strengthen their advertising codes to end marketing practices with underage appeal and avoid marketing in venues with large youth audiences."

PIRE, or Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, is a national nonprofit public health research institute with centers in eight U.S. cities that is supported primarily by federal and state research and program funds.

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