FALLBROOK – “Holidays are for family, not for drinking,” says Alexis McSurdy, a 14 year-old freshman at Fallbrook High School and member of the Fallbrook Youth Prevention Group (FYPG). Every year the FYPG participates in the county-wide campaign “Cinco de Mayo con Orgullo [with pride].” The goal of the campaign is to reduce holiday-related alcohol advertising.
“Alcohol advertisements show people drinking on the holidays and it sends the message that you have to drink to celebrate and you have to drink to have fun,” added McSurdy.
Youth prevention groups like the FYPG mail postcards to alcohol retailers in their regions around San Diego requesting them to voluntarily remove any alcohol advertisements or displays that exploit holidays, such as Cinco de Mayo. The youth groups then do a follow-up in person with the owners of these same alcohol retailers. The FYPG sent out 39 postcards to alcohol retailers in the Fallbrook area. So far, they have met with 24 of those stores’ owners and eight have agreed to participate.
“The holiday-themed advertisements exploit celebrations like Christmas, Fourth of July and Cinco de Mayo. These holidays have deep cultural significance and using them to sell alcohol is irresponsible and wrong,” says Stephanie Ackroyd, the youth coordinator with the FYPG. “We’ve definitely noticed a positive change in the type of advertisements from last year. This year, the ads seem to be focused on sports instead of holidays.”
“We are trying to spread the message that holidays shouldn’t be used as a marketing tool for alcohol,” said 17 year-old Kevin Mendoza, the newest member of the Fallbrook Youth Prevention Group and a junior at Fallbrook High School. “Some business owners didn’t care. Others already had ads using holidays and some businesses liked what we were doing and wanted to participate,”
The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth says that, “Since 2001, at least seven peer-reviewed longitudinal studies have found that young people with greater exposure to alcohol marketing are more likely to start drinking than their peers.” (www.camy.org)
“Advertisements for alcohol send a dangerous message to kids. These ads glorify drinking and that is extremely dangerous for young people - even deadly,” said Mendoza.
“Advertisements impact kids. Do we really need so many?” asked McSurdy.