Alcohol Advertisements Promote Underage Drinking This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 17, 2010
More by this author
Imagine driving down a dark country road at night with nothing ahead but unexpected curves, and the only light is coming from the headlights. Out of nowhere, a car speeds past you and slams into a tree. Later on, the news reports that the driver was a teenager who was just coming from a party highly intoxicated and has now died. If only that teenager had not been persuaded to drink, they might still be alive. Many teens are influenced to drink by many sources, such as alcohol advertisements. Alcohol advertisements promote underage drinking by targeting youth with things like entertaining commercials, interesting slogans or modeling that the behavior of drinking is “cool,” and should be stopped or advertised very differently.

In today’s society, alcohol is becoming the most commonly used drug in America. Not only have alcohol advertisements been attracting people who are of age to drink, but the advertisements have been targeting the youth. In an article by The Gale Group Inc. entitled “Alcohol Advertising Targets Teens and Glorifies Drinking” they argue that alcohol producing companies that make it a goal to not target teens have been doing the exact opposite. They state that “commercials for beer are the most obvious, using sports and music stars, and cute dogs like Spuds MacKenzie to show young consumers how much fun alcohol is” (Alcohol).Children today watch a lot of television. If a small child were to watch a commercial with a cute and cuddly dog, they would automatically associate that dog with warm feelings and a positive attitude.In 1996 the Budweiser Frogs seemed more familiar to children more than Tony the Tiger or Smokey the Bear (Advertising). Children at that young age should not recognize a cartoon character representing alcohol more than they should cartoons made for children.Not only do items on the television ads seem appealing, but things like t-shirts and hats attract attention as well. “Researchers studied a group of more than 1,700 sixth and seventh grade students, measuring their alcohol use and intention to drink against their exposure to alcohol ads on TV and magazines as well as in-store promotional items and other marketing materials, like t-shirts and posters” (Youth). Sixth grade students should not even know what drinking is or what it’s about. Even if they aren’t the ones wearing a t-shirt with an alcohol brand on it, they could see it on their parents who they look up to and once again, relate drinking alcohol to being a good thing. “Nineteen percent of the North Dakota middle school students surveyed said they own such materials” (Youth). These alcohol themed items are not only expressed through material items, but the biggest of them all are the alcohol ads on television.

“Researchers observed that exposure to TV alcohol advertisements was linked with an increased tendency to drink, as were magazine advertisements and concession stands at sporting events or concerts” (Booze). Everyone watches TV and it is obviously impossible to stop people from doing it, but it should be possible for alcohol companies to tone down the way in which they advertise. Alcohol companies know that people watch a lot of television. They could possibly not show as many commercials during times when children are most likely to be watching TV, like at night or on the weekends. Before students graduate high school, they will spend as much time as 18,000 hours in front of the television, and they will watch about 2,000 alcohol commercials on television each year (Advertising). High school students already have enough pressure put on them to drink. Now by seeing so many commercials on TV it just increases that pressure. Not only does just seeing the commercials increase the will to drink, but what is put on the commercials does too. “Alcohol advertisements overwhelmingly connect consumption of alcohol with attributes friendship, prestige, sex appeal and fun” (Advertising). Teenagers today can connect with all of those things which just sparks their interest to drink even more.

Alcohol companies do put warnings like “drink responsibly” on their advertisements but not everyone listens to that. Since alcohol advertisements make drinking look so appealing to youth, whenever they drink they probably feel like one of the “cool kids,” which means they won’t stop at anything, like drinking and driving. “Studies have also concluded that alcohol advertising leads to increased morbidity and mortality associated with data to estimate the specific impact of alcohol advertising on morality caused by motor vehicle accidents in that if a ban were placed on alcohol advertising on television, motor vehicle accident deaths would decrease” (Advertising). Simply put something as common as an alcohol advertisement can lead to the death of a child.

Alcohol companies may not think that their advertising reaches many children and even if it does, they think it has no impact. This is where they are wrong. Lesley Smith from Oxford Brookes University conducted many reviews on the effects of alcohol advertisements on youth. “One showed that for each additional hour of TV viewing per day the average risk of starting to drink increased by 9 percent during the following 18 months. Another found that for each additional hour of exposure to alcohol use depicted in popular movies there was a 15 percent increase in likelihood of having tried alcohol 13 to 26 months later” (Booze). Just one additional hour of watching TV can increase such a dangerous risk. Children today watch at least three hours of TV a day easily, those extra hours will come and so will the advertisements targeting the children viewing them. Much research has been conducted in this area and in Buddy T.’s article called “Alcohol Advertising Increases Youth Drinking” he said that “each additional advertisement viewed per month increased the number of drinks consumed by 1 percent.” Since children view TV so much, their interest to drink doesn’t have to happen suddenly. Alcohol advertising contributes to youth drinking over time (Increases). So when people think that if it doesn’t attract them at once it won’t ever, they are wrong.

It is true that no matter what anybody does, children will never stop viewing TV, reading magazines, going to sporting events or buying items that are representing alcoholic beverages. It is also true that alcohol companies have to support their business somehow. Just like any other company, advertisements are a must to get a product out there and known. It is possible however to do it in a way where they do not have to make drinking look so appealing to younger kids. Companies could easily not use sex appeal or partying in their ads and still get their product out and known to everyone.

“Simply put, young people who view more alcohol advertisements tend to drink more alcohol” (Increases). Alcohol advertisements do promote underage drinking which in turn can lead to dangerous situations or even death. Nobody wants to get a call from the police saying their child has died from drinking too much or decided to drive after drinking. Why would they make this choice? The ads they see on TV or in magazines influence their judgment and increase their want to fit in and be one of “the cool kids.” If people would get together and speak out against the way alcohol companies advertise their products, a stop could be put to underage drinking and the youth all around the world can save something as precious as their life or someone else’s.
Works Cited Page
-"Alcohol Advertising and Youth (Position Paper) -- Policy & Advocacy -- American Academy of Family Physicians." Home Page -- American Academy of Family Physicians. Web. 15 Nov. 2010. <>.

- T, Buddy. "Alcohol Advertising Increases Youth Drinking." Alcoholism - The Alcoholism Home Page. 18 Jan. 2006. Web. 15 Nov. 2010. <>.

- "Social Issues - 404."Social Issues - Home. Web. 15 Nov. 2010. <>.

- "Alcohol Advertising Targets Teens and Glorifies Drinking.” Advancing Effective Alcohol and Drug Policy, Prevention and Treatment. Web. 15 Nov. 2010. <>.

- Savitha. "Booze Advertisements Could Promote Underage Drinking." Medindia, 09 Feb. 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2010.

Join the Discussion

This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

jettabugThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 8, 2012 at 7:32 pm
This is a great article. Great job! This should be published in newspapers worldwide. Amazing job!!!
Skookie97 said...
Oct. 17, 2012 at 8:52 pm
Well thought and written. I do think that you should consider adding more information about parents' influence on children.
BRiANNARoSE said...
Jul. 21, 2012 at 2:34 pm
Well written! To be more formal, replace contractions with full words. Examnple: replace "don't" with "do not". Keep writing! (:
swcricket98 said...
Jun. 29, 2012 at 10:05 am

I believe that this is a well thought out article about the affects of alcohol advertisements on children.

I do, however, want to make a comment in which my opinion differs with yours. In your second paragraph, you stated that you do not think that 6th graders should know what drinking is or what it is about. I disagree with that statement. I knew at a very young age what drinking/alcoholism is and I believe that the knowledge, especially being taught at a young age, can help you make ... (more »)

jettabugThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 8, 2012 at 7:33 pm
I agree with you. Sixth graders and children of younger ages should know about alcohol just so they can see it from a different perspective. If they know about it and if their parents teach them so, then they can realize that it's closer than you  think and it won't be such a "foreign object".
BlindlyLaughing said...
May 30, 2012 at 7:18 pm
This is very true and wonderfully written, awesome job
Site Feedback