A new study by the Norris Cotton Cancer Center finds that current constraints on advertising for alcohol products in movies that are viewed by adolescents are ineffective. The study analysed alcohol and tobacco portrayal in popular movies between 1996 and 2009. US tobacco placement became regulated by law and dropped significantly; alcohol placement was regulated by the industry itself and raised considerably.

Several studies indicate that movies influence smoking and drinking during adolescence: A 2012 Surgeon General’s report noted a causal relationship between the initiation of smoking in adolescents and depictions of smoking in movies. There are also studies concluding that children’s exposure to movie imagery of tobacco and alcohol is associated with early onset of drinking and alcohol abuse.

A 1998 agreement, enforced by the State Attorneys General, resulted in dramatic declines in cigarette brand placements after 1999, and coincided with declines in youth tobacco use. Paid brand placement in movies in contrast is still a common marketing practice for the alcohol industry and their rules don’t adequately restrict placements to movies intended for adults.

“In order to be effective, constraints on advertising for products that harm adolescents should be externally developed and enforced,” said Dr. James Sargent, co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at Norris Cotton Cancer Center and professor of Pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Sargent went on to say, that historically, industry self-regulation in this area does not work.

The researchers argue that since evidence now supports the negative health consequences of smoking and drinking in films, the industry-regulated rating system should change. The researchers suggest that movies that depict drinking in contexts that could increase curiosity or acceptability of unsafe drinking should be rated R (Restricted – Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian). For example, no movie with a youth rating should show alcohol brands, underage drinking, binge drinking, alcohol abuse, or drinking and driving.

An abstract of the article can be read on the website of JAMA Pediatrics.

Source: manufacturingmirror.com 05/28/13

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