Day 26: Family Media Detox

I’m no fan of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and I certainly don’t support intrusive, regulatory paternalism, but I know a lot of folks who would like to see fewer ads for Cialis, Viagra, and booze.  An excerpt from an article published on the Healthfinder website:

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t want children exposed to tobacco ads at all, and wants to limit their exposure to alcohol marketing and advertisements for erectile dysfunction drugs and other prescription medications.

Those are just a few of the recommendations in its new policy statement, “Children, Adolescents, Substance Abuse, and the Media,” published in the October issue of Pediatrics.

The AAP is targeting advertising because it works. Advertising may be responsible for as much as 30 percent of alcohol and tobacco use, the authors say. When Camel cigarettes started an ad campaign using a cartoon camel as its mascot, its market share went from 0.5 percent of teen smokers to 32 percent. And, exposure to tobacco marketing more than doubles the risk of a teenager starting to smoke, the paper states.

Alcohol ads are getting through to younger kids, too. A study of 9- and 10-year-olds found that as many kids who could identify Bugs Bunny could also identify the Budweiser frogs. In another study, 75 percent of fourth-graders could identify a ferret used in a Budweiser advertisement.

Some other highlights of the statement include:

  • Limit advertising and product placement for alcohol in venues where more than 10 percent of the audience are children. Alcohol use in teens shouldn’t be portrayed as normal in movies or TV shows, and no one should be shown as being “funny-drunk.”
  • The White House Office on Drug Control Policy should conduct anti-smoking and anti-teen-drinking public service campaigns.
  • Drug companies, public health groups and the medical communities should have an open debate on the necessity of advertising prescription drugs.
  • Ads for erectile dysfunction drugs should only be shown after 10 p.m., and they shouldn’t be overly suggestive.
  • Schools should try to incorporate media education into their curricula.
  • Parents should limit unsupervised media use.

Doesn’t our president smoke?  Just askin’…

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