Many American are highly susceptible to the alcohol dependence due to genetic risk factors; these individuals frequently assume that alcohol consumption is safe and harmless.
The lifetime risk of alcoholism is 12-14%, a rate that translates to 20 million Americans.
Addiction 1994;89:1357-65, Alcohol 1995;30:177-86.
Alcohol is the number one drug used by teenagers, and studies show that the level of alcohol use is strongly associated with illicit drug use.
TV ads suggest that alcoholic consumption is part of a popular lifestyle, without health risk. In fact, many beer and wine commercials are specifically tailored to convince impressionable young adults that alcohol consumption is socially desirable and a necessary part of entertainment and leisure activities.
Legislation Banning Cigarette Advertising on Television as a Successful Example
Congress banned the advertising of tobacco products on television and radio in 1971, because smoking cigarettes was linked to lung cancer and other health problems (cigarettes smoking causes approximately 100,000 deaths from lung cancer per year). As a result, since the mid 1970s the percentages of adults who smoke cigarettes has decreased from 38% to 23%, and over the past ten years the incidence of lung cancer has decreased. J Natl Cancer Inst 2001; 93: 277-283, MMWR 2004; 53: 1-108, Chest 2003; 123: 21S-49S.
The alcohol manufactures ignore the fact that this product should not be consumed in any quantity by millions of pregnant women, teenagers and elderly adults. Individuals who should avoid alcohol use include those with liver disease, pancreatic disease, seizure disorders, gastric disorders, uncontrolled hypertension, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmias, and psychiatric problems such as depression and anxiety disorders. The innumerable medications that may interact adversely with alcohol are added reason to curtail unchecked advertising of alcoholic products.
Alcohol advertising is a particular threat to our children and teenagers. These ads are misleading and do not warn our children of the potential health hazards associated with this drug. Alcohol consumption is linked to increased morbidity and mortality in teenagers because of its association with physical injuries, suicide, homicide, date-rape, acute toxicity, accidents and other harmful outcomes.
Risk to children — Thousands of children are born each year in the United States with mental retardation and other birth defects due to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) which occurs at a rate of about 0.5 to 2 cases per 1,000 births (i.e., about 2,000 to 8,000 infants born each year with FAS). These infants suffer from learning disorders, speech problems, and sensory impairments. Alcohol Res Health 2001; 25: 159-67, MMWR 2002 May 24; 51: 433-5.
Fatal Liver Disease — Alcohol abuse is the leading cause of cirrhosis; approximately 12,000-14,000 Americans die each year from alcohol related liver disease. American Journal of Public Health1995; 85:1256-60
Traffic Fatality and Accident Injuries — Over 16,000-17,000 Americans are killed each year because of alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents, not including many more individuals who are crippled and severely injured. Annual Emergency Medicine 2001;28:415-22
Pancreatic Disease — Alcohol abuse may causes acute pancreatitis and is the primary cause of chronic pancreatitis. The incidence of chronic pancreatitis in the U.S. is 5-10 per 100,000.
Brain damage – Alcohol abuse can cause encephalopathy, delirium and permanent cognitive impairment.
Adverse Effects to Women’s Health — "Alcohol use, even at moderate levels (2-4 drinks per day) increases risk of both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancer". Oncologist 2003;8:326-34
Cancer – Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with squamous cell carcinomas of the mouth and esophagus, and increased risk of gastric, colon and liver cancer. Environ Health Perspect. 1995Nov;103Suppl8:153-60
Suicide — Between 30-50% of suicide victims have alcohol in their blood system at time of death.
Crime and Antisocial Behavior — Alcohol is a contributing factor in the majority of sexual assaults (over 15% of young American women are the victim of sexual assault). Additionally, alcohol contributes to numerous social problems including: domestic violence, child neglect and abuse, and violent crimes.
Television and Radio Advertising of Alcoholic Products Needs to be Banned!