Alcohol and Tobacco Advertising: A Long and Controversial History
1. Alcohol and Tobacco Advertising History in the American Media
Alcohol and tobacco advertising has a long and controversial history in the American media. Alcohol advertising first appeared in the colonial era, with ads for rum appearing in newspapers as early as the 1730s (Weishaar, 2012). These early ads were aimed at adults, and mostly consisted of tips on how to make the best rum punch. In the early nineteenth century, ads for alcohol began to appear in magazines aimed at a wider audience, including women and children (Weishaar, 2012).
Tobacco advertising also has a long history in America, dating back to the 1800s. Cigarette ads were first seen in magazines in the mid-1800s, and by the early 1900s, they were appearing in newspapers as well (Schudson, 1984). Like alcohol ads, these early tobacco ads were aimed at adults and did not target children.
The twentieth century saw a marked increase in both alcohol and tobacco advertising. Cigarette companies began targeting women in their ads, using images of independent and stylish women to sell their products (Schudson, 1984). Alcohol companies also began targeting women in their ads, using images of happy families and social gatherings to sell their products (Weishaar, 2012).
During the twentieth century, there was also an increase in ads that targeted children. Cigarette companies began using cartoon characters to sell their products to kids, and alcohol companies began using images of sports stars and celebrities to sell their products to young people (Weishaar, 2012).
2. Challenges in Alcohol and Tobacco Advertising
The increased use of alcohol and tobacco advertising has faced a lot of challenges which have resulted from the ethical issues in these adverts. Many people have argued that these ads are unethical because they target vulnerable groups such as children and women (Weishaar, 2012). Others have argued that these ads are unethical because they promote unhealthy products that can cause serious health problems (Schudson, 1984).
In response to these challenges, Congress passed a number of laws in the twentieth century that regulate alcohol and tobacco advertising. These laws prohibit certain types ofads from being shown on television and radio, and they also require that all cigarette commercials include a health warning from the Surgeon General (Weishaar, 2012). Despite these regulations, alcohol and tobacco advertising continues to be a controversial issue in America today.
3. The Impact of Alcohol and Tobacco Advertising on Children
There is evidence that children are exposed to a significant amount of alcohol and tobacco advertising. A study conducted by researchers at the University of California found that children see an average of four beer commercials per day on television (Harrison & Olympia, 2006). This same study found that children see an average of three cigarette commercials per day on television (Harrison & Olympia, 2006).
There is also evidence that children are influenced by what they see in these ads. Studies have shown that children who are exposed to alcohol advertising are more likely to start drinking at an earlier age than those who are not exposed to such ads (Harrison & Olympia, 2006). Studies have also shown that children who are exposed to cigarette advertising are more likely to start smoking than those who are not exposed to such ads (Harrison & Olympia, 2006).
4. The Role of Government in Regulating Alcohol and Tobacco Advertising
The government has played a role in regulating alcohol and tobacco advertising since the early twentieth century. Congress passed the first law regulating alcohol advertising in 1906, and the first law regulating tobacco advertising in 1909 (Weishaar, 2012). These laws were designed to protect public health by preventing alcohol and tobacco companies from targeting vulnerable groups such as children and women.
In recent years, the government has continued to play a role in regulating alcohol and tobacco advertising. In 2010, Congress passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which prohibited website operators from collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 without their parents’ permission (Harrison & Olympia, 2006). This law was designed to protect children from being targeted by online advertisers.
5. The Future of Alcohol and Tobacco Advertising
The future of alcohol and tobacco advertising is uncertain. Some experts believe that these industries will continue to face challenges from those who argue that their ads are unethical. Others believe that the industry will find ways to adapt to the changing landscape of media and marketing. Whatever the future holds, one thing is certain: alcohol and tobacco advertising will continue to be a controversial issue in America for years to come.
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