Ethics and Advertising: The Alcohol Dilemma

The AP reported recently that the American Medical Association (AMA) is calling on television networks to ban alcoholic beverage advertisements before 10 PM. The house of delegates for the AMA met in New Orleans, where the plea to broadcasters was announced.
A spokesperson for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States claimed the move was unjustified, stating that friends and family have more effect on a young person's decision to drink or not to drink rather than advertisements. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) "does not rule out the existence of a clinically important effect of advertising on youth drinking decisions."
According to Lucas, a 25 year-old former alcoholic, "Though the commercials obviously weren't solely responsible for my drinking at an early age, the way the parties and women were portrayed made me want to have the same thing happen to me. I wanted to have a good time, but it just made my life horrible chasing that party scene depicted in the ads." Lucas was fortunate enough to handle his addiction through the Narconon® program several years ago, and now looks back on the idiocy of his former ways.
The AMA also released studies showing that significant damage is caused to an underdeveloped person such as a teenager, stating that it "...causes long-term and possibly irreversible damage." The report also stated that the average age that children try alcohol for the first time on their own is 12 years old.
Young people view 20,000 commercials each year, and nearly 2,000 are for beer and wine. For each anti-alcohol/drug public service announcement teenagers see there are 25-50 more advertisements that entice them to drink alcohol.
Whether or not the advertisements have any direct impact, college drinkers, many of them underage, have caused some serious problems. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism there are:
• 1,400 deaths per year
• 500,000 injuries
• 600,000 assaults
• 70,000 sexual assaults
• Over 2 million drove a car in 2001 while under the influence
While the numbers are staggering, something can be done about it. The suggested ban on alcohol ads before 10 PM could be a good start, couple with truly effective education and awareness as well as full rehabilitation. The Narconon Program provides such services, as well as referrals to over 11,000 other treatment centers across the nation. Based on fundamentals discovered and developed by American author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard, the Narconon Drug and Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Program is one of the most successful models in the world, assisting more than 70% of its graduates in remaining drug-free and becoming ethical, productive members of society again.

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