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Study: alcohol marketing linked to drinking among underaged

Marketing today comes at us in more forms than ever. We’re inundated online with web banners and paid search results, while offline there’s not only a constant assault of high-volume TV commercials but also traditional advertising such as billboards, made over with digital graphics. While many of our Loudoun County readers might reasonably assume that young people today are tuned mainly into their smartphones, research shows that those between ages 18 and 20 are actually the group most heavily exposed to alcohol brand ads in magazines.

That age group is not so coincidentally one that struggles most with excess drinking, which can result in DUI arrests and punishments including loss of driver’s license, heavy fines and even jail.

The study in this month’s Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs shows that people ages 18 to 20 are receiving more exposure than any other age group to ads touting alcohol brands known to be popular among teens and young adults.

Coincidence? Probably not. Researchers say, though, that though the data “suggests a relationship” between exposure to ads and consumption of alcohol, the voluntary alcohol advertising code isn’t being broken. That code says alcohol ads can only be placed in magazines that have less than 30 percent of readers below age 21.

As our blog readers know, the legal drinking age in Virginia is 21. The commonwealth also has a “zero tolerance” for underage drivers, which means a blood alcohol content of 0.02 percent can result in conviction. The legal threshold for adults is 0.08 percent. 

Parents with a teen or young adult facing DUI charges should speak with an attorney experienced in protecting a young person’s rights in our criminal justice system. 

Source: Medical News Today, “Underage drinkers are ‘targeted’ by alcohol ads in magazines,” Markus MacGill, July 8, 2014

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