239718 Fighting for “share of throat”: The alcohol industry wants our youth!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 12:30 PM

Samantha Cukier, MBA, MA , Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Dan Steeves, BEd, DAUS , Addiction Prevention Treatment Services, Capital District Health Authority, Lower Sackville, NS, Canada
Jennifer Heatley, BSc , Atlantic Collaborative on Injury Prevention, Halifax, NS, Canada
Rationale and Goal: Increasingly sophisticated marketing tactics are being used by the alcohol industry to encourage pro-drinking attitudes and behaviors among youth. As the age of onset for alcohol use continues to decrease, it is imperative that these vectors contributing to early initiation, increased level of use and greater likelihood of serious consequences in the future, are stopped. This presentation will explore evidence from Canada and the US and provide advocacy and policy options to reduce the burden of harm. Methods: Research on alcohol marketing was examined with a special focus on youth-directed messaging. Marketing strategies included exposure to corporate branding with in-school, industry-sponsored youth programming in Atlantic Canada. Alcohol industry strategies were compared to tobacco and food industry strategies and the findings shared with health professionals, community members and government representatives. Results: The alcohol, tobacco and food industries use similar tactics to lure youth to their products, e.g. identical packaging of non-alcoholic and alcoholic energy drinks; candy cigarettes; animal-shaped chicken nuggets, all used to ensure continued brand loyalty and easy transitions to adult products. Conclusions: Attracting the youth market is integral for the alcohol, tobacco and food industries; this demographic segment represents a significant portion of current revenues and ensures loyal future customers. It is critical to increase awareness among public health professionals, equip them with the tools necessary to prevent and reduce the associated harms, and consider the implications of industry collaboration.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Compare the top 3 marketing strategies used by the alcohol, tobacco and food industries to make their products more appealing to youth. Differentiate between industry sponsored and non-industry sponsored alcohol harm-reduction programs. Identify the top 3 policy options, at a community level, that can be initiated to prevent and reduce youth-oriented alcohol marketing.

Keywords: Alcohol, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I worked for the province of Nova Scotia on their provincial alcohol strategy and continue to do PhD research on alcohol industry strategies at Johns Hopkins.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.