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(Pundit On Demand)
Washington DC

Marketing Alcohol To Kids In America

James F. Mosher, Legal Consultant
International Institute for Alcohol Awareness and Center
Director of the PIRE's Center for the Study of Law and Enforcement Policy

February 16, 2006

Teenage girls and young women are rapidly increasing their alcohol consumption and are now rivaling their male counterparts. In fact, according to a report in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, women ages 21 to 24 drank 33 percent more alcoholic drinks in 2004 than they did five years earlier. A leading contributor to this trend is the evolution of alcoholic beverages aimed specifically at more youthful tastes.

Alcoholic beverage manufacturers are turning increasingly to fruity, sweet and fizzy drinks, called "alcopops." New brands continue to appear, attempting to capture market share. In most states, alcopops containing distilled spirits are misclassified as beer. And they are being marketed to teenagers, especially teenage girls, who are falling victim to the destructive effects of underage drinking. In fact, the American Medical Association (AMA) reports that teenage girls are drinking these fruity drinks twice as often as boys, and a full one-third of all girls age 12 and older have tried alcopops.

Alcopops pose a serious health threat to young women, many of whom mistakenly think that the drinks contain less alcohol than beer. AMA statistics are sobering, showing that one in four girls who consumed an alcopop either drove afterward or rode in a vehicle with a driver who had been drinking, and many girls as young as 13 say that they were sexually active after drinking alcopops.

The California Senate held a hearing on Tuesday to discuss ways to protect teenagers against the dangers associated with alcopops. Specifically, the State is debating the classification of alcopops as distilled spirits, making them subject to stricter regulation and higher taxes and harder for teenagers to obtain.

The evidence is clear: Alcopops pose a significant danger to our youth. Responsible alcoholic beverage manufacturers must take steps to ensure that these products are not advertised to teenagers, and the government must recognize alcopops for what they are - soda pop injected with hard liquor.

James F. Mosher is a national expert on the problem of underage drinking and effective strategies to prevent it. He is available for interviews upon request.

For more information contact Jim Gogek at 619-251-4675 or Michelle Blackston at 619-654-6068.

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