Ads that encourage teenage alcohol abuse should not be accepted
Stabroek News
April 5, 2002

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Dear Editor,

The revelations in the SN Feature of teenage alcohol abuse published on 20 March, 2002 are cause for concern. Unfortunately, the concerns fall on deaf ears and no doubt we will continue to have a high level of abuse. SN , while publishing this feature, also publishes advertisements by Red Square, a beverage with a 9% alcoholic content - enough, to quote an experienced drinker, to wreak havoc with any young person who is not accustomed to drinking. What is particularly sinister about the Red Square campaign and even some of the campaigns for alcohol is that it is directed at seducing the young people of Guyana into a life of misery. As your feature quoted, some sellers of alcohol have no compunction about selling to anyone of any age - contributing to the profits of the vendors of misery.

Come on, Stabroek News, you have set the lead on many other issues, make up your mind on the importance you place on the health and well being of the nation's youth and what importance you can play on this particular issue. The feature quoted the influence of the media in promoting alcohol abuse - surely the media can sacrifice the dollars which come in from advertising products which have results in serious social losses.

Yours faithfully,

Vidyaratha Kissoon

Editor's note:

The impact of alcohol advertising on young people is a valid concern but there are several issues that have to be taken into account.

Regulation of this type of advertising should be the responsibility of the advertising industry and/or the state, as it is in other countries. If the newspaper decided not to accept alcohol advertising of a certain type it would still appear in every other medium and so there would be little impact. We have gone on record several times as saying that tobacco advertising, for instance, should be regulated and not be linked to sporting events, aired in prime time or targeted at young people because of the known deleterious effects. Many of the same arguments could be made about alcohol advertising and if the parameters were set by a regulatory body it would be a much firmer foundation on which action could be taken.

Secondly, we do not believe that advertisements should be denied for any product unless there is some gross violation of an advertising code or the product is banned. In matters of free choice, where does one draw the line? What about violent movies, diet pills or high cholesterol butter?