AAP: The Less Kids See of Joe Camel, the Better

The AAP has released a statement calling for a ban on tobacco advertising, limitations on alcohol commercials, and no ED drug ads until 10 p.m.

Despite efforts by parents, teachers, and the federal government to urge adolescents to "just say no" to tobacco, alcohol and drugs, more than $25 billion worth of advertising for these products is working to get them to "say yes."

To combat these mixed messages, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Communications and Media has released a policy statement in the October issue of Pediatrics calling for a ban on tobacco advertising in all media, limitations on alcohol advertising, and no erectile dysfunction drug advertisements until 10 p.m.

In addition, the AAP recommends that parents exercise extreme caution in letting their younger children view PG-13 and R-rated movies and television shows, which often feature substance abuse, and that all substance abuse prevention programs, including those in the classroom, include media education. The statement recommends that pediatricians actively encourage parents to limit unsupervised media use and television channels with excessive depictions of substance abuse, and that the White House Office on Drug Control Policy begin producing and airing anti-smoking and anti-drinking public service announcements.

Although the causes of adolescent substance use are multifactorial, the media can play a key role,” according to the statement, which points out that tobacco and alcohol represent the two most significant drug threats to adolescents.

In the statement—entitled “Children, Adolescents, Substance Abuse, and the Media”—the APP identified the following as anticipated guidelines for pediatricians:

  1. Pediatricians should encourage parents to limit unsupervised media use and especially encourage removal of televisions from children’s bedrooms. At every well-child visit, pediatricians should be asking at least 2 questions regarding media use: (a) How much entertainment media per day is the child or adolescent watching? And (b) Is there a television set or Internet access in the child’s or adolescent’s bedroom? Research has revealed that having a television in the bedroom is associated with greater substance use and sexual activity in teenagers.
  2. Pediatricians should encourage parents to limit access by children and young adolescents to television venues with excessive substance use depictions (eg, MTV, HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central).
  3. Pediatricians should encourage parents to limit younger children’s exposure to PG-13 movies and avoid R-rated movies.
  4. Pediatricians should encourage parents to co-view media with their children and teenagers and discuss the content being viewed.
  5. Pediatricians should encourage parents to turn off the television during evening meals.
  6. Pediatricians should ensure that their waiting rooms are free of magazines that accept cigarette and alcohol advertising.

For more on this topic:

  • Energy-Alcohol Beverage Puts Young Adults at High Risk
  • New Tobacco Regulations Aim to Reduce New Smokers
  • CDC: Alcohol & Drug Use