Everybody drinks. We all know that. And it's legal of course. And since it's legal, the companies that produce the alcoholic beverages for our consumption are expected to make a profit.
Everybody drinks. We all know that. And it's legal of course. And since it's legal, the companies that produce the alcoholic beverages for our consumption are expected to make a profit. Every business, unless it's an eleemosynary operation, is expected to make a profit. And to make a profit, you need to market your products to the people that are potential buyers, so that in the end, they will want to buy them. When teaching people about your product, you want them to crave it. You also want to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. You want the world to use your products. And when your product is an alcoholic beverage, you want to make it sexy and enticing. That isn't so hard to do, of course, because when you consume alcoholic beverages, your social œwall comes down, you become less inhibited, and more inclined to relax. Hookups with members of the opposite or same sex happen, sometimes with regret, and people act a little foolish, but so what? We know it's all good, right? Unless of course, you have an addiction to drinking. Then it's not so good.
Let's look at some statistics. Television ads for alcoholic beverages running on American stations average over 285,000 per year, or about 1,000 ads per day! At the cost of television ads, considering the premium markets and times they run, the companies producing the alcoholic beverages spend more than $250,000, 1/4 of a million dollars, daily! Yes, as little as almost $300,000,000 a year. This doesn't include print media, radio advertising, or other direct mail and intangible marketing efforts. As you can see, the profit has to be significant to spend that much money in the hopes of getting a return on the investment in marketing. And my guess is that the majority of advertising dollars is spent in higher-cost markets, meaning that the cost grows significantly.
To be effective, and remain viable, the alcohol industry employs lobbyists to promote the industry and inhibit the implementation of laws, which might otherwise help to reduce drinking and alcohol-related problems. Other countries have implemented a ban on advertising and have had significant reduction in alcohol-related problems. Some self-regulation has been done, but when you leave a fox to watch the hen-house, the result is rarely what you hoped for. And not to be confusing, but increased exposure to advertising is likely to lead to more drinking, while decreased exposure doesn't seem to have the inverse effect. That means that watching such advertisement will promote drinking; once you drink, you don't need the ads to motivate you.
While appearing well-intentioned, the proposals of the industry seem to have little, if any impact. They don't get across a message to potential users that drinking is hazardous to one's health, or that the continuous ingestion of alcohol can lead to addiction, or how it affects the body's organs. The message, regardless of its intended audience, is seen by every age and demographic. Whether it's on television, radio, in a magazine, on a billboard, or even the aisles of the supermarket, we are bombarded with advertising for alcoholic beverages daily. In fact, youths are 22 times more likely to see an advertisement for alcohol than a public service announcement.
Self-regulation has not been effective. Advertising hasn't been toned down. The objective, despite everything they say, is the same; sell more alcohol, make higher profits. And tough luck to those who can't handle the drink¦
We can't expect to solve the problem of alcohol addiction solely by eliminating advertising. We can, however, portray the consequences in real terms. The cigarette industry has been forced to show the terrible things smoking does to a person's health. They have torn down the mask of the œbeautiful smoker and been forced to show the aged skin, the artificial voice box where vocal cords once resided, the wheezing, and the effects of cancer due to smoking. Perhaps it's time we show the effects of excessive drinking, paid for by those peddling their relentless wares to us. Perhaps we need to stop letting our gate-guards, the legislators we elect to Congress, sell us out.
The fiduciary responsibility of Congress is to protect us from forces larger than the average man or woman can protect themselves from on their own. It is critical to winning the war on addiction. Taking away the œmagic of alcohol, illuminating the dangers of drinking, and recognizing the destructive qualities of excess consumption is essential to success in fighting alcohol addiction in the future. And yes, our future does depend on it.
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