WASHINGTON DC: A new study claims that America's youngsters are being subjected to increasing volumes of alcohol advertising, as liquor marketers invest more cash in cable and spot TV commercials, overwhelming existing codes of conduct.

The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University reports that between 2001 and 2005, 1.4 million alcohol ads ran on TV at a cost of $4.7 billion (€3.56bn; £2.39bn).

It cited Viacom's Comedy Central, VH1 and BET as three stations where "youth were consistently overexposed to alcohol advertising every year from 2001-05," with youth more likely to see alcohol ads on those three networks than adults aged 21-34.

Comments CAMY executive director David Jernigan: "Youth exposure to alcohol is moving in the wrong direction. Twenty state attorneys-general and the Institute of Medicine have said the alcohol industry needs to do a better job of shielding our kids from its advertising."

The drinks industry is quick to defend its position. Says Frank Coleman, svp for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States: "CAMY is aware of the [council's] guidelines, the process [for filing complaints] and has, in fact, praised DISCUS's public reports. It has never filed a single complaint about any distilled spirits advertisement on cable TV."

Coleman adds that the industry's self-regulating advertising code, adopted in September 2003, is "one of the most rigorous of any group in the US". It confines alcohol ads to media where 70% of the audience is at least 21 years old.

Data sourced from Adweek (USA); additional content by WARC staff