No Wine, But Lots of Swill in This Study
A new study out of Boston University and Johns Hopkins University identifies the brands of alcohol 13-20 year olds reach for when they binge drink. Courtesy of the Washington Post report is this graphic:
Who noticed what I noticed.…? Exactly. Underage drinkers have no use for wine, only beer and spirits.
In the early days of the direct shipping battles, opponents of direct shipping often claimed that minors would use the Internet to obtain wine for their weekend parties. It’s too bad we didn’t have this study and this graph. It would have cleared up a lot for the doubters of our youth.
All that aside, what’s really interesting about this study is how it is being used to try to demonstrate that the most popular brands of underage binge drinkers attain their success among minors due to “the marketing efforts that are encouraging the use of these not just by youths but also in excess,” concludes Dr. Michael Siegel, professor at Boston University School of Public Health and one of the study’s authors.
Now, consider this statement from Dr. Siegel:
“For the first time we’ve found the brands that are most responsible for binge drinking among our nation’s youth.”
Should Dr. Siegel actually have said this: “For the first time we’ve found the brands underage binge drinkers reach for.”
Dr. Siegel is assuming that the brands at the top of the graph, if not all these brands, are the cause of the binge drinking among America’s youth. There’s a danger in this assumption besides the fact that it is in all likelihood miles from the truth. The problem is that if you assume that these brands marketing is responsible for binge drinking due to their marketing, then just about all marketing of alcohol must be considered responsible for not just binge drinking, but problem drinking as well as alcoholism.
If this were true, then I would be the first person to advocate that marketing of alcohol be limited to putting it on the shelves of stores and nothing more.
But I’ll never advocate that. I’ll never advocate that because I keep asking myself, was their no binge drinking or alcoholism or youth drinking 300 years ago when all marketing consisted of booze on shelves?
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States makes a point about this study that ought to send all those involved with it running for the doors and apologizing on the way out: “David Jernigan and his agenda-driven surveys continue to make a mockery of true and honest scientific inquiry. According to government research, the vast majority of underage drinkers — 91.3% — do not purchase their own alcohol, but rather obtain it from parents and other legal-age adults. This fundamental fact makes this survey meaningless and a complete waste of $2,242,826 in taxpayer money.”