At this year’s Conference of the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs, Professor Sandra Jones condemned Australian alcohol branded websites for being too easily accessible for minors. Every one of the sites studied failed to effectively block under 18s from accessing alcohol marketing content, she said.

 

Jones, director of the University of Wollongong’s Centre for Health Initiatives in New South Wales, said that because people tend to spend longer interacting with booze content online than they do with TV or print ads, they are more likely to develop an affinity with alcohol brands.

This suggests they could start drinking at an earlier age, and drink in greater volumes, she said. “Look at TV and magazine advertising – for a long time there has been evidence to suggest that young people found advertising content engaging, and that led to high incidences of underage drinking,” she told Australian media & marketing website Mumbrella.au.

“It’s not a huge leap of faith to suggest that the more kids engage with alcohol content online, the more they will drink later in life,” Jones is quoted at Mumbrella.

Professor Jones presented findings of a recently completed study of 25 alcohol brand websites. Her analysis showed how certain brands are targeting female drinkers, while others are particularly appealing to young men and boys. She explained that content like games, downloadable music, sport and sexual content are commonly used by alcohol brands online, but that links with social media were the most effective way of engaging under aged drinkers. “Uploading pictures of you and your friends drinking, sharing that content, and the ability to ‘like’ a brand so it becomes your friend, are powerful ways alcohol brands are connecting with young people,” she told Mumbrella.

Jones went on to say that the problem with alcohol advertising, “is that their messaging is very appealing to young people – and it’s too easy to access.” Only half of the 25 sites she examined had any barrier in place, “usually an age verification page that was easy to bypass,” she said.

Comment by EUCAM:[/b] [i]We agree that the current ‘state of the art’ of barring minors from alcohol branded sites is far from satisfactory. We also recognize that solutions like Age Gates are not being implemented as effectively as possible. For instance many Age Gates allow for unlimited retrying until an appropriate age is filled in. A better solution is used by websites who store the first entered age in a cookie, in effect blocking entrance to the website so long as the respective cookie is not deleted. A still better solution would be to put the burden of proving the age not with the visitor, but with the website. Such is currently the case with US tobacco websites.

Source: Mumbrella 11/20/12

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