By Annan Paterson
Guest op-ed column
SWEET COLTS running freely in a pasture. Funny lizards in imaginary swamps. Goofy and hip young adults in funny situations.
No, this is not Saturday morning television; these are Super Bowl Sunday beer commercials and they are coming to you and your kids very soon, and they are not youth friendly.
Parents and educators face an upstream battle against the polluted stream of alcohol that surrounds youth in our society. Alcohol advertising during the most watched TV sports event of the year, in particular, must be confronted.
While we in Marin County have limited budgets for underage drinking prevention, intervention, and treatment, the alcohol industry has hundreds of millions to spend on advertising during the Super Bowl and every other day of the year.
Marin Institute's Free The Bowl Video Contest is a youth call for action to eliminate alcohol ads on TV sports programs.
"Young people are slammed by TV alcohol ads every day of the year," stated Michael Scippa, Marin Institute's public affairs director. "But beer ads on TV sports programs, and especially during the NFL's Super Bowl, are a massive overdose that must be curbed to reduce youth alcohol-related harm."
Research has shown that the more alcohol ads kids see, the more likely they are to drink, drink to excess and drink more often.
In 2009, the Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking reported that 5,000 people under the age of 21 die annually from injuries caused by alcohol. Hundreds of thousands more suffer alcohol-fueled sexual assaults, serious injuries, diseases and academic failure.
A new analysis released recently by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, shows once again that voluntary industry advertising codes are ineffective.
According to the study, youth exposure to alcohol advertising on U.S. television increased 71 percent between 2001 and 2009. The research also pointed to Bud Light, a mainstay of Super Bowl advertising, as one of 12 brands targeting youth.
The full report, Youth Exposure To Alcohol Advertising on Television, 2001-09, can be found at www.camy.org.
Join us by getting involved in Free The Bowl. It's a start in reducing and, perhaps one day, eliminating the polluted stream of inappropriate alcohol advertising on TV sports events. It's an easy part for all of us to play in making Super Bowl Sunday truly youth friendly.
Visit www.FreeTheBowl.com for all the details.