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STUDY: Alcohol advertisements, Super Bowl commercials influence underage teens to drink Submitted: 01/30/2015
RHINELANDER - Super Bowl Sunday is the holy grail of football.

This time last year, more than 113 million people were preparing to watch as the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos battled for title of Super bowl champions.

But it's what happens when the game isn't on that has experts talking.

Game time is prime-time for the biggest advertisements of the year, many of those marketing alcoholic products with advertisements targeting underage teens.



"It disturbs me to hear that because I can see the impact on young adults. And the advertisers are specifically marketing for that age," said Yvette Hittle, a behavior expert with Ministry Behavioral Health in Rhinelander.

From the millions of people watching the big game, 23 percent will be young adults ages 18-20, who aren't legally permitted to drink.

Hittle has experience with the teens impacted by advertisements seen on TV and social media.

In fact, her patients range from from twelve years old, to seventy. Their struggles range widely too.

"[I deal with] everything from alcohol abuse to heroin dependence, to methamphetamine, to folks who are abusing bath salts," continued Hittle.

She believes those chronic addictions can start with the heavy influence from message in the media.

"Those messages are sinking into their brain and influencing the decisions they make."

A study published by Medical News Today earlier this year, suggests the number of television ads seen by teens under the age of 21, influences their decision to drink early.

That premature behavior can lead to a lifetime of dependence of alcohol.

"It disturbs me to hear about that because I can see the impact on young adults. The advertisers are specifically marketing for that age," continued Hittle.

For the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, more than one billion dollars is spent on beer and other alcohol nationwide.

"There's always an increase in sales for the super bowl, lots of people have lots of parties. Of course, it'd be much better if we had our packers in it, but it is what it is," said Dennis Annis, owner of House of Spirits in Rhinelander.

Annis says he's most careful about never selling alcohol to underage teens.

But experts believe the popularity of drinking in Wisconsin can dangerously expose teens to early drinking habits and patterns.

"We have a huge culture of drinking, no big surprise. In fact, when all the statistics come out, Wisconsin always ranks the highest for heavy drinking, drinking fatalities and binge drinking."

Adolescents are overwhelmed with messages that impact their self-esteem and psyche, and comfort level around their peers at a crucial time in their lives.

"[The advertisements tell them] if you drink this specific brand of alcohol you will be attractive to beautiful women, you will be popular, that's it exciting and fun," said Hittle.

Underage drinkers consume as much as 20 percent of all the alcohol in the United States.

In 2011, 14 companies spent nearly three and a half billion dollars on marketing and advertising alcohol.

"Adolescents are already unconsciously picking up these[messages]. Studies show that teens can link advertisements, that are directed at adolescents, and the brands of alcohol."

Annis won't stand for teens illegally attempting to buy alcohol.

"If they don't have the proper identification they can't buy it."

He also believes that TV ads don't encourage risky teen behavior.

"Personally, I don't think it does. It all depends on the individual," continued Annis.

Behavioral experts believe there are preventative measures that can protect teens from early alcohol dependence.

Globally, there could be restrictions placed on how alcohol companies are permitted to advertise.

But Hittle believes education starts at home.

"I encourage parents to carry on a dialogue with their children about advertisements, so the children can look critically at how these advertisements may be influencing them."

An open dialogue about early alcohol abuse can make a difference.

During this years' Super Bowl, Budweiser will debut two commercials, while Bud Light will premiere one.

The cost for thirty seconds of air time was $4.5 million dollars; that's about $500,000 more expensive than last year.



Story By: Kalia Baker

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 LOCAL NEWS

RHINELANDER - Parents of students in two Northwoods schools will take part in a statewide parenting project this year. UW-Extension offices across the state are organizing the eParenting Program.

This is the first year that James Williams Middle School in Rhinelander is taking part in the program. Elcho School is also participating.

Parents in the project get emails every week with different parenting resources.

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Children and adults at Lac du Flambeau Public School worked hard to construct a traditional Ojibwe Winter Lodge.

People worked together for nine months to build it.

The entire lodge is made from natural materials. Both the gathering of materials and the construction of the lodge were done in a spiritual way: acknowledging and thanking the earth.

"Native people, we look at the trees, we look at the animals, we look at the fish. We revere those things as our relatives. A lot of non-native people look at those things as a resource," said Ojibwe Language and Culture Instructor Wayne Valliere.

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RHINELANDER - A Northwoods group that strives to help make students job-ready got special recognition from Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday.

Rhinelander-based Partners in Education, or PIE, was one of 17 individuals and groups honored with the 2014 Wisconsin Financial Literacy Award.

The non-profit started in 2009.

It works with local businesses and community leaders to offer additional educational opportunities for K-12 students in Rhinelander.

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SUGAR CAMP - A recent grant might help students at Sugar Camp Elementary stay healthy this school year. The NFL and the National Dairy Council gave the school a $900 grant last week. The students get in shape by taking part in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program.

"Our kids are tracking physical fitness points and nutrition points every day on the Fuel Up to Play 60 website," said 4th Grade Teacher Robin LeMoine. "They are involved in the 100 Mile Club that we started here this fall, where we're walking one mile every day."

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 REGIONAL NEWS

JANESVILLE - Mitt Romney is scheduled to return to Wisconsin this spring, but he won't come back as a Republican candidate for president.

Romney said Friday he will not run for president in 2016.

The business group Forward Janesville says Romney will keynote its annual dinner on April 7 in Janesville, hometown of his former running mate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.

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MADISON - The flu gets the blame for the deaths of three more children in Wisconsin.

That brings the total number of pediatric deaths to five.

The latest report from the state Department of Health Services shows this flu season is second only to 2009, when the swine flu caused the deaths of six children.

In the U.S. this season, Wisconsin is behind only Texas with seven pediatric deaths.

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MADISON - A Wisconsin appeals court says a requirement that singers in the state Capitol obtain a permit was unconstitutional.

The case involves Michael Crute was cited for joining in a daily sing-along protest in the Capitol rotunda in July 2013. State rules then prohibited anyone from participating in an unpermitted event in state buildings.

Crute argued the regulations violated his free speech rights. A Madison judge tossed out his ticket in February. The 4th District Court of Appeals upheld that decision on Thursday, ruling the regulations didn't further a significant state interest.

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MADISON - Members of the Menominee Tribe, southeastern Wisconsin union workers and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers are urging Gov. Scott Walker to reconsider his rejection of a new casino in Kenosha.

Walker rejected the tribe's proposal last week and reiterated on Wednesday that he would not change his mind.

But advocates for the project gathered at the Capitol Thursday to say Walker can still change his mind by the Feb. 19 deadline.

Walker says he can't reverse his decision even if he wanted to.

But Kenosha casino backers say the Bureau of Indian Affairs would be willing to let Walker change his mind. A spokeswoman for BIA did not immediately return a message asking if Walker could reverse course.


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