This paper is an argument against the use of advertising to encourage underage drinking. Current efforts to cut back or entirely eliminate advertising for cigarettes have focused public attention on the role that such advertising plays in creating new smokers and convincing minors to break the laws that ban them from buying, possessing, and using cigarettes. Alcohol abuse presents a problem just as serious and more immediately deadly. While the long-term detriments of smoking have been well documented, alcohol abuse kills significantly more young people. Advertising plays an important role in increasing the appeal of drinking, and recent moves to put hard liquor ads on television are especially disturbing.
When 20-year-old Louisiana State University student Benjamin Wynne died of alcohol poisoning after an all-night drinking binge with members of his fraternity, the tragedy focused attention on the problem of alcohol abuse on college campuses in the United States. An autopsy determined that Wynne's blood-alcohol level was six times that of the state's legal intoxication limit. LSU had already been rated among the "top ten party schools" by the Princeton Review, a list that covers the country, including schools from Colorado to Florida to New England.
While the legal drinking age has risen to 21 everywhere in the country, alcohol abuse by minors continues to be a major problem in America. College campuses "are among the nation's most alcohol-drenched institutions." At least six on-campus deaths in the last year have been blamed on excessive drinking, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) notes, "Binge drinking is arguably the Number One public health hazard and the primary source of preventable morbidity and mortality for the more than 6 million full-time college students in America."
Alcohol kills and injures many young people who themselves do not even drink. A report by the U.S. Surgeon General observes ...