Marketing and Promotion of Alcohol and Other Drug Use

Students are exposed to a surfeit of media messages promoting alcohol use�''on TV, from local bars, and even in campus newspapers. Advertising concentrated in and around campus from the alcohol industry, liquor outlets, and bars and restaurants all aim to lure students to choose their products or establishments. These messages can undermine even the best-conceived alcohol abuse prevention efforts on campus and in the community, reinforcing myths that drinking is an essential part of college life.

Due to the illicit nature of other drug abuse, other drugs are promoted in subtler ways. Advertisements promoting dance clubs, all-night raves, and parties can attract students to events where drug use is considered part of the culture.

Restricting On-Campus Marketing

Allowing alcohol advertising on campus�''especially when many students on college campuses are under 21�''alongside efforts to prevent high-risk and illegal drinking sends a mixed message to students. While campus administrators can�''t control the alcohol industry, they can start by taking a close look at how alcohol is promoted on campus and adopt policies to restrict alcohol advertising on campus. For instance, spring break packages promoted by the alcohol industry often portray spring break as a week for alcohol abuse. A campus can also set guidelines about the content of advertisements from clubs, raves, and events, including on- and off-campus parties, in an effort to limit alcohol and other drug promotion.

One major step to limit alcohol marketing on campus is the severance of ties between the alcohol industry and college and university athletics. Accepting alcohol sponsorship of sporting events, allowing industry advertising in campus stadiums, and permitting heavy drinking during tailgating and at games reinforces the culture of alcohol use that pervades college sports. Refusing sponsorship and advertising money from the alcohol industry and restricting or banning alcohol sales and use at sporting events send a clear message that heavy drinking is not an accepted or expected part of campus sporting events.

Restricting Off-Campus Marketing

Off campus, campus and community coalitions can work to limit alcohol marketing and promotion in the neighborhoods surrounding campus. Coalitions can urge local establishment owners to adopt voluntary marketing and advertising guidelines. For instance, some bars promote food to the same extent as alcohol, emphasize the legal necessity of being age 21 to drink, and avoid language or graphics in advertisements that promote drunkenness.

Examples of Specific Activities

  • Ban alcohol advertising on campus.
  • Set guidelines for club, rave, and party advertisements.
  • Refuse alcohol sponsorship of sporting events.
  • Restrict or ban alcohol sales and use at sporting events.
  • Ask establishment owners to adopt marketing and advertising guidelines.
  • Ban drink specials in off-campus bars and restaurants.
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