The letter comes in response to new research by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, which shows that the alcohol industry’s current advertising codes are weak and are not being enforced. Johns Hopkins researchers found that between 2005 and 2012, more than 15 billion alcohol advertisements on TV, most of them on cable, were viewed by audiences that included more youth than allowed by the self-regulated industry guidelines.
“The industry has long opposed government regulation of marketing and advertising, which makes it incumbent on you to maintain strict and aggressively enforced standards,” the letter states. “The Johns Hopkins report shows this is not happening, needlessly endangering youth across the country.”
Excessive alcohol drinking kills on average 4,300 people under the legal drinking age each year and is also a risk factor among the top three leading causes of death for this age group – accidents, suicide, and homicide.
Johns Hopkins and the Federal Trade Commission recommend that alcohol associations adopt strong “no-buy” list criteria that would prohibit alcohol advertisements from airing on programs and during times that youth are more likely to be watching television.
Based on the recommendations of Johns Hopkins and the FTC, the consumer groups urged The Beer Institute, The Wine Institute, and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States to:
- Avoid advertising on programs that are known to have previously violated placement standards.
- Avoid advertising on programs that run during time periods known to be popular among youth.
- Avoid programs that are known to have a small number of adult viewers.
To provide more guidance to alcohol associations, Johns Hopkins also has created a list of specific programs and network/time of day combinations where alcohol advertisements shouldn’t be aired.
The letter was signed by Public Citizen, the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County, Alcohol Justice, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Bon Secours New York Health System, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Council for Prevention, the Drug Free Action Alliance, LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addictions, the National Association for Addiction Professionals, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association, New Futures, the New York Alcohol Policy Alliance, Oregon Lines for Life, Project Extra Mile, and the US Alcohol Policy Alliance.