Targeting Advertisements

Teens are hooked and lives are at stake

Targeting Advertisements

The youth of our generation have been baby fed the idea of abusing alcohol and drugs with the advertisements sent out by big companies. They reel teens in with fun flavors and sleek easy-to hide-designs. Once they are hooked, young people are trapped by addiction.  

According to the New York Times, the original design for the JUUL was meant to attract adults from ages 20-30, and studies from the Food and Drug Administration have shown that JUULs are less harmful for adults but there is still a present danger among teens. The New York Times also states, the whole concept of the “JUUL” was not initially aimed at younger people, but the former senior manager, as well as other workers, were aware that this product would attract teens.   

“Unfortunately it’s been recently, probably in the news the last three years, if I recall how popular [nicotine usage is] with teenagers, especially high school students,” said School Resource Officer Matt Jacobsmeyer 

When asked about the link between teen nicotine use and advertisement, Jacobsmeyer said both yes and no. He believes the usage of vape/JUUL products mostly came from word of mouth and what kids saw online. 

Some of what students see online are advertisements advocating for nicotine products. Research from the National Youth Survey(NYTS) shows that “85.2 percent of middle school and 87.3 percent of high school students were exposed to pro-tobacco ads in stores, in magazines or on the internet in 2019.” 

JUUL has even faced lawsuits for advertising that was directed towards minors. 

JUUL fights these allegations by saying, “Our customer base is the world’s one billion adult smokers, and we do not intend to attract underage users.” 

Due to alarming JUUL usage among teens, many find these allegations untrustworthy. 

While the advertising of nicotine products is currently gaining a lot of traction in recent news, nicotine is not the only substance being abused by teens. 

Even though it is not commonly used at school, alcohol has still has proven to be a very present danger. 

The usage of alcohol among teens is no secret, it is very evident from what can be seen online. Often, minors will take advantage of privacy settings on social media platforms to make their underage drinking known to select people.  

Even with this supposedly private gesture, the bandwagon starts rolling, allowing for those select few to hop on the underage drinking trend and then post about their drinking experiences, and the cycle continues. 

Jacobsmeyer said, “If I’m not working in here and I’m out working on the street during the summer….typically we’ll start seeing [underage drinking] outside of here.” 

The spread of teen alcohol usage can not only be pinned on peers but the ads they see online or in magazines. 

John Hopkins Bloomberg Schools of Public Health found that ads in magazines with a substantial youth readership(15 percent or more) “frequently showed alcohol being consumed in an irresponsible manner.”   

Magazines that have been specifically targeted towards minors are filled with ads to burn the idea of abusing alcohol into teens’ brains. 

Just as the teens themselves can’t fully be blamed for the spread, the magazines themselves shouldn’t be taking all the heat for what ads are being selected for the print issue.  

The publishers of the magazine give approval to what ads are put on the pages while the designers of the magazine decide placement.   

With that being said, the danger of alcohol is no secret. 

“At least 14 studies have found that the more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising and marketing, the more likely they are to drink, or if already, to drink more…” said David Jurigan, Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth(CAMY) director and study co-author.

These ads leave an impact on the youth and this is proven through the amount of kids who drink. 

According to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “In 2018, 7.1 million young people ages 12–20 reported that they drank alcohol beyond ‘just a few sips’ in the past month.” 

While word of mouth is a major part of the spread of smoking and drinking among teenagers, company ads on social media in teen magazines are not innocent. Targeting teens and romanticizing the usage of drugs and alcohol can and will increase their participation.  

To start the decrease in teen drug and alcohol usage, it is important for companies to stop targeting young audiences and instead implement a change. Encourage teens to stay away from their products.  

While this might deplete sales, this move will also be rid of any lawsuits regarding youth sales. More importantly less teen participation. 

This will not eliminate all underaged drinking and smoking, but these company advertisements should not be contributing to the ongoing problem.