Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and 19 other state attorneys general have asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a hard look at how alcohol advertising may promote underage drinking. The comments were sent after the FTC asked whether it should collect information from alcohol advertisers about marketing, sales and the alcohol industry's self-imposed regulatory codes.
"We believe the current industry standard overexposes youth to alcohol advertising and think this is unacceptable," said Shurtleff. "If you're going to apply a standard in order to avoid overexposing youth to alcohol advertising, then that standard should have some real meaning."
The most recent research has demonstrated a link between exposure to alcohol advertising and increased drinking behavior by underage drinkers.
"Young people are starting to drink at an earlier age and drinking more aggressively than ever before," said Maine Attorney General Steve Rowe. "We are troubled by this growing thirst for alcohol among young people. We believe this thirst is driven by a culture of drinking created in part by alcohol industry marketing." He added that children who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin drinking at 21.
The attorneys general said the FTC should ask alcohol advertisers about the amount of money spend and where they spend it. For instance, advertisers should explain how much is spent on TV and radio ads compared to movie product placement or college and bar promotions. The alcohol industry currently operates under a series of voluntary standards, all of which require that advertising be placed only when at least 70 percent of the audience is 21 or older.