ELIZABETH CARTIER: Today we would like to express our concern about alcohol advertising and the effects it has on youth. Alcohol is the number one drug used among young people. Eight teenagers a day die due to alcohol-related accidents. About two-thirds of teenagers who drink say they can buy their own alcohol. It is said that one out of every 280 babies born today will die in an automobile accident that is alcohol related. Traffic accidents are the single greatest cause of death between the ages of 6 and 28. About 47 percent of these accidents are alcohol-related. 56 percent of students in grades 5 through 12 say that alcohol advertising encourages them to drink.
TED DEMULDER: We have a poster to illustrate underage drinking. There are 10 million underage drinkers in the United States. Of those 10 million, 4.4 million are binge drinkers, which means they have 5 drinks or more, and 1.7 million teens drink heavily on a regular basis.
JASON MAGNANI: Teenagers are known to be more susceptible to alcoholic advertising than adults. This is especially true when it comes to radio and television broadcasting. In June of 1996, the Seagrams America Company began running Crown Royal brand whiskey commercials in Corpus Christi, Texas. It featured a dog labeled Obedience School Graduate who was carrying a newspaper. Another dog labeled Valedictorian was carrying a bottle of Crown Royal. In this ad, Seagrams positioned liquor as an award for achievement.
When liquor ads started to run on television, public health groups and government officials reacted in an alarming way. They said that, by running liquor ads on television, they would be seen by young people and that sometimes they were deliberately targeted at young people. In November of '96, after the liquor ads came out, 26 members of Congress wrote to the Federal Communications Corporation, urging them to further investigate the liquor ads on television. They said that they did not want children to get an image of academic and athletic success, gained through drinking alcoholic beverages.
ANNE MITIGUY: Consumer and public health groups scoff at alcohol ads that are aimed at teenagers. They say that beer is heavily advertised during televised sporting events. These are mostly watched by high school and college aged students. The Seagrams ads about the obedience dogs and the Budweiser frogs are designed to catch the eye of young viewers. The alcohol industry critics say that young people decide to sample alcohol because of peer pressure but that advertising reinforces their inner thoughts. The ads are mostly young, attractive and healthy-looking adults. Most of the time, you can't even really tell how old they are. They are drinking beer, and at end of the commercial, one of them says "It just can't get much better than this." These ads don't show both sides. As they say, it might not get any better, but it can get a whole lot worse. This is a side that should be shown more often, but isn't.
TED DEMULDER: In flipping through two mainstream magazines for our collage, Newsweek and People, we came across various alcohol advertisements. The Bacardi ads shows an unrealistic view of what happens to people when they drink. The Absolut ads have become coffee book material for many teenagers that collect them. The slogan "Forget the rules and enjoy the wine" shows how irresponsible people are, and basically the companies are saying anyone can drink.
ERIC MORIN: Because alcohol ads are very glorified and intensified, more today than they ever were before, they can be very harmful to our generation and generations to come. These ads exert constant and powerful pressure on today's youth. With more and more kids exploring the Internet and the Worldwide web there is a growing trend of advertising and promotional material. Oftentimes the corporations use such techniques as up-to-the-minute sports scores, games and contests to promote their type of alcohol. With all the advertising that is going on, there is a growing influence upon youth today. What the corporations have in mind is that, if they gear their ads towards young adults, they will start to drink at a younger age. Once they start to drink, soon the corporation will have a lifelong customer. Our main concern about ads today is that they are giving us an unrealistic view about what alcoholic beverages are and what they can do to you.
Congressman Sanders, after hearing this information, we leave it in your hands to make proposals to remedy this problem, such as placing more responsibility on the alcohol companies to direct their ads at older and more mature audiences, instituting stricter penalties to those who procure alcohol for teens, as well as those teens who try to purchase it, and initiating a stronger community involvement with alternatives to alcohol, such as rec centers, sports leagues, and school-related affairs.
CONGRESSMAN SANDERS: Excellent.
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