WASHINGTON DC: A US advocacy group has slammed the nation's drinks industry for failing to put enough cash or effort into advertising that alerts young people to the dangers of alcohol.

The Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth, at Georgetown University in Washington DC, says firms should hand over the small amount of money set aside for such marketing to an independent body that would use it more effectively.

The CAMY report, which studied TV ads by the industry from 2001 through 2005, found that only 2.1% of the total $4.9 billion (€3.6bn; £2.4bn) TV commercials budget was spent on responsibility ads.

Executive director David Jernigan said the study showed these commercials were "completely overwhelmed by product advertising".

Drinks makers, however, responded robustly. Said a spokeswoman for the Distilled Spirits Council: "CAMY rightly points out the beverage-alcohol industry cannot fight this battle alone. CAMY has received millions of dollars in funding, yet it has supported no programs of its own.

"We invite CAMY to use their resources to join these partnerships' efforts to fight underage drinking."

Data sourced from AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff