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Directions in Highway Safety, Spring 2007 Cover Page Download Newsletter pdf
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Summer 2007 | Vol. 10 | No. 2

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Alcohol Ad Warnings Not Reaching Teens

Brigham Young University researchers have found that teenagers often miss responsible-drinking statements when looking at alcohol advertisements.

The study, conducted by Steven Thomsen, took over a year to complete. Thomsen recruited 63 middle school students, averaging 13 years old, to assess the association between attention to and recollection of the messages' content. He used a device to track the students' eye movements while looking at print ads for alcohol products.

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The results showed that teens spent an average of seven seconds looking at the ads but only 0.35 seconds looking at the responsibility messages. After looking at an ad, most teens could not remember the general concept of the responsibility message.

Alcohol industry groups question the validity of the study, since neither the ads nor the messages are aimed at teens. They note that distillers are using a number of other initiatives to combat underage drinking. Substance abuse health professionals hope that the study will help treatment specialists work with teenage substance abusers.