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Increase in ads for booze may increase underage drinking


Many teenagers in Philadelphia drink alcohol before they are 21 years old. This behavior is relatively common and sometimes almost expected when they are in college. Despite the fact that this behavior is relatively common, it is still illegal and can have more consequences than one may think. One recent study fears that an increase in ads for alcohol on TV may be one reason that underage drinking is so common.

According to a study, the number of TV ads for alcohol exceeds the voluntary industry standard. In 2003, the industry voluntarily agreed to not air any alcohol ads during TV programs where 30 percent of the audience was likely under the age of 21. Researchers looked at a sample of popular shows for people aged 12-20 and found that one out of four ads for alcohol exceeded the industry standard. The study found that if this advertising was eliminated, youth would be exposed to one-third fewer alcohol ads.

The concern is that youth will model their behavior after these advertisements. Studies have shown that the risk of underage drinking increases when youth are exposed to alcohol advertisements. Currently, alcohol is the most commonly used drug by young people and many health and social problems are associated with it.

Beyond the health issues that can arise fom underage drinking, an underage drinking conviction can have unexpected legal consequences as well. It is not as small of an offense as many may think. If a minor is convicted of underage drinking in Philadelphia he or she will lose his or her driver's license for 90 days for the first offense, one year for the second offense and two years for the third. A conviction also is a criminal offense that remains on the person's record and can cause complications when completing school and work applications. In Pennsylvania, a person charged with underage drinking may be able to enter into a diversion program, though, and ultimately have the charge dismissed.

TV ads for alcohol in Philadelphia increase young people's exposure to alcohol and may lead to underage drinking. Convictions for underage drinking have serious unexpected consequences that one would do well to avoid if at all possible.

Source: Philly.com, "Kids view too many TV ads for booze, study finds" Robert Preidt, Nov. 7, 2013

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