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Pediatricians Want to Restrict Ads for Tobacco, Booze, Viagra
Date:9/27/2010

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't want children exposed to tobacco ads at all, and wants to limit their exposure to alcohol marketing and advertisements for erectile dysfunction drugs and other prescription medications.

Those are just a few of the recommendations in its new policy statement, "Children, Adolescents, Substance Abuse, and the Media," published in the October issue of Pediatrics.

"Although parents, schools and the federal government are trying to get children and teenagers to 'just say no' to drugs, more than $25 billion worth of cigarette, alcohol and prescription drug advertising is effectively working to get them to 'just say yes' to smoking, drinking and other drugs," wrote the policy's authors.

Every year, more than 400,000 people in the United States die from smoking-related illness, according to the policy statement. And, more than 100,000 deaths can be attributed to excessive alcohol consumption.

The AAP is targeting advertising because it works. Advertising may be responsible for as much as 30 percent of alcohol and tobacco use, the authors say. When Camel cigarettes started an ad campaign using a cartoon camel as its mascot, its market share went from 0.5 percent of teen smokers to 32 percent. And, exposure to tobacco marketing more than doubles the risk of a teenager starting to smoke, the paper states.

Alcohol ads are getting through to younger kids, too. A study of 9- and 10-year-olds found that as many kids who could identify Bugs Bunny could also identify the Budweiser frogs. In another study, 75 percent of fourth-graders could identify a ferret used in a Budweiser advertisement.

The AAP would like to see a ban on all tobacco ads and an end to smoking in movies. If characters are smoking, they shouldn't be glamorized, the statement advises.

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