African-American adolescents between the ages of 12 and 20 are exposed to more alcohol advertisements on TV and in magazines than youth in general, as stated by a recent report from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The recent study examines African-American youth exposure to alcohol by brand name and type, as well as African-American adolescent exposure to advertisements relating to black adults from a variety of different media companies, by use of data from recent years.

The report highlights that among African-American youths, alcohol is the most commonly used drug and is linked to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), car accidents, and violence.

Previous trials have determined that when youths are exposed to advertisements and marketing that are alcohol-related, they are much more likely to drink, or drink more than they already do.

David Jernigan, PhD, director of CAMY, commented:

“The report’s central finding – that African-American youth are being over-exposed to alcohol advertising-is a result of two key phenomena. First, brands are specifically targeting African-American audiences and, secondly, African-American media habits make them more vulnerable to alcohol advertising in general because of higher levels of media consumption. As a result, there should be a commitment from alcohol marketers to cut exposure to this high-risk population.”

Researchers have discovered that specific formats, brands, and channels provide more exposure to alcohol for African-American youths than other teens.

In 2008, African-American adolescents had 32% higher exposure to advertisements regarding alcohol, compared with youth in general in national magazines.

Five different magazines which are widely read by African-American teens were found to have twice as many targeted alcohol advertisements, compared to other comparable publications. Below are details on how much more alcohol-related advertising these publications have:

  • Vibe – 328% more
  • Black Enterprise – 421% more
  • Ebony – 426% more
  • Essence – 435% more
  • Jet – Jet 440% more

In magazines, certain alcohol brands target African-American youth more than youth in general or black adults. They include:

  • Hennessey Cognacs
  • Jacques Cardin Cognac
  • Dry Gin
  • 1800 Silver Tequila
  • Seagram’s Extra Dry Gin
  • Seagram’s Twisted Gin

In 2009, African-American adolescents were subjected to 17% more advertising on television than youth in general, with 20% more exposure to advertising of distilled liquors.

Some television channels produced 2 times as much advertising aimed at black youth than all youth, including:

  • TNT – 122% extra exposure
  • SoapNet – 299% extra exposure
  • BET – 344% extra exposure
  • TV One – 453% extra exposure

During 2009, African-American teens listened to 26% less alcohol advertising on the radio than youth in general, but they heard 32% more distilled liquor advertising.

In these types of advertisements, four radio stations targeted black youth much more than black adults. These stations included:

  • Urban stations – 13% extra exposure
  • Contemporary Hit/Pop stations -14% extra exposure
  • Hot Adult Contemporary stations – 43% extra exposure
  • Contemporary Hit/Rhythmic – 104% extra exposure

Denise Herd, PhD, an associate professor with the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health, said:

“Alcohol products and imagery continue to pervade negative health consequences. The findings of this report make clear immediate action is needed to protect the health and well-being of young African Americans.”

The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey revealed that around 1 in every 3 African-American U.S. high school teen drinks alcohol. According to the report, 40% of these adolescents binge drink.

In addition, although this binge drinking is normally not as common among African-American adults as other ethnicities, African-Americans who take part in binge-drinking are more likely to do it more regularly and more aggressively than others.

Written by Christine Kearney