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August 12, 2009

CDC Funds the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was awarded $4 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion to monitor youth exposure to alcohol advertising over the next five years.

Alcohol use is the number one drug problem among America’s youth. Every day 5,000 young people under age 16 begin drinking, and every year alcohol causes more than 4,600 deaths among persons under 21. Numerous long-term federally-funded studies have found that the more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising, the more likely they are to begin drinking or, if already drinking, to drink more.

“We are very pleased to be working with the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on monitoring youth exposure to alcohol marketing,” said Robert Brewer MD, MSPH, the head of the Alcohol Team at CDC. “We are confident this work, supported by both Congress and the Surgeon General, will help reduce youth exposure to alcohol marketing and thereby contribute to our collective efforts to prevent underage drinking.”

In 2006, Congress passed unanimously and then-President George W. Bush signed into law the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking (STOP) Act, the first piece of legislation solely devoted to underage drinking ever passed by Congress. Among other provisions, this legislation charged the Secretary of Health and Human Services with monitoring the “rate of exposure of youth to advertising and other media messages encouraging and discouraging alcohol consumption.” The Surgeon General recommended ongoing, independent monitoring of alcohol marketing to youth in 2007 as part of The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking.

Founded at Georgetown University in 2002 and funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation until June of 2008, the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth pioneered new methodologies for assessing youth exposure, using industry-standard sources such as Nielsen Media Research and Arbitron. In January 2008, the Center and its executive director, David H. Jernigan, PhD, moved to the Bloomberg School.

“Industry self-regulation is the primary way young people are protected from exposure to alcohol advertising,” said Jernigan. “By shining a bright and consistent light on alcohol advertising practices, CDC’s funding of ongoing monitoring of youth exposure helps to ensure that self-regulation is as effective as it can be.”

Public Affairs media contact for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons at 410-955-7619 or tmparson@jhsph.edu