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It has long been a complaint that there are more liquor stores and alcohol advertising in black neighborhoods. One of the main concerns is the effect this has on children who see these ads. But the exposure isn’t just scattered across communities; it goes directly to them through the media as well. A new study by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that African-American youth are exposed to more alcohol advertisement. The special report, Exposure of African-American Youth to Alcohol Advertising, 2008 and 2009, contained some sobering stats.

Black youth from the ages of 12 through 20 see more advertisements for alcohol in magazines and on radio and TV compared with all youth in that age group. And get this: the ads are mostly in media targeting black readers. Dr. David Jernigan of John Hopkins, who was a researcher for the study, was recently interviewed on the Tom Joyner morning show. He said that publications like Essence, Vibe, Black Enterprise, and other popular black outlets are filled with alcohol advertisements. The study also pointed to alcohol references in rap music. “A recent content analysis of the most popular rap songs from 1998 to 2009 found that from 2002 to 2005, 64 percent of the songs contained alcohol references,” states the report.

Despite this bombardment of advertising, black youths consume the least amount alcohol of all other races. But still the numbers of African-American adolescents drinking are surprisingly high. In fact, alcohol is the most widely used drug among African-American youth.

The study found that “among African-American high school students nearly 65 percent report having had at least a sip of alcohol and an estimated 25 percent report drinking alcohol for the first time before age 13.3.” And, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, about one in three African American high school students are current drinkers, and about 40 percent of those who drink report binge drinking, defined as drinking five drinks or more in a row.
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