The American Medical Association is calling for a ban on TV ads for alcoholic drinks before 10pm in a bid to reduce underage drinking.

According to Richard Yoast, director of the AMA’s Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse: “The use of alcohol before the brain is fully adult, age 20 or 21, causes long-term and possibly irreversible damage.”

Research has found that underage drinkers perform worse on a series of mental tests than their alcohol-free counterparts, and may also have smaller brains.

As a result, the body urges broadcasters to run commercials for beer, wine or liquor only after 10pm, and to drop any ad that uses child-friendly mascots or cartoon characters.

The suggestion did not go down well with the drinks industry. “We think it’s an unjustified attack on a responsible industry,” blasted Lisa Hawkins of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. “We are committed to responsible advertising.”

Hawkins added that friends and family are more influential on teen drinking habits than commercials, and that repeated studies by the Federal Trade Commission “concluded that our ads are directed to adults.”

Data sourced from: MediaWeek (US); additional content by WARC staff