The alcohol industry is systematically targeting disadvantaged communities through advertising and access, creating an extraordinary public health problem. Despite the well-known negative health consequences, alcohol products and imagery continue to pervade African-American youth culture and communities. Alcohol companies have self-regulatory codes that they claim protect young people from exposure to their advertising. Staff from the Federal Trade Commission, the Institute of Medicine and 24 state attorneys general agree that these codes are not strong enough.
Establishing no-buy lists for consistently youth-oriented programming and requiring a higher percentage of adults in programming where alcohol advertising is placed are two steps the alcohol industry could take today. These initiatives would help us all do a better job of protecting young people — and of safeguarding African-American youths in particular.