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The Pediatric Forum
March 1999

Substance Abuse Prevention and the Media

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1999;153(3):313. doi:

I am deeply distressed that in an otherwise outstanding article on the prediction and prevention on substance abuse in children,1 there is no mention of the effects of the media on children and adolescents' experimentation with alcohol and tobacco. Hello—is anyone out there paying attention? Tobacco companies spend $6 billion annually on promotions and advertising; beer and wine manufacturers spend $3 billion annually.2 The effect of such expenditures on older children and younger adolescents has now been extensively documented.2-8 Indeed, a recent longitudinal study of cigarette promotional advertising found that 30% of all teenaged cigarette use could be ascribed to media effect.6 The media represent a kind of "super-peer" in its influence on young people and their drug-taking behavior.5 As such, no discussion of "peer group" or "community environment" is complete without at least mentioning this effect. In addition, there are now media education programs that have been tested and found to be effective in preventing drug use among adolescents.7,8 Not a single reference to media influence out of 113 total references? What's missing in this picture?

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