Survey: Parents Want End to Spring Break Drinking Promos

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A study by the American Medical Association released last week found that 91 percent of parents want to stop spring break promotional practices that tout dangerous drinking.


A Matter of Degree: The National Effort to Reduce High-Risk Drinking Among College Students is an $8.6 million, seven-year program designed to foster collaboration between participating universities and the communities in which they are located to address this public health issue and improve the quality of life for all residents.


The study of 500 U.S. residents 21 and older was conducted in late February by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, Washington. The study found that 56 percent of parents are unaware that tour companies market spring break destinations directly to college students, emphasizing heavy drinking and sex.


These promotions arrive by e-mail, campus advertisements and direct mail. Eighty-eight percent of parents and 71 percent of adults say they are outraged by this practice.


"Unfortunately, spring break is no longer an innocent respite from the rigors of academics, it's potentially life-threatening," said J. Edward Hill, M.D., AMA chair-elect. "The tourism and alcohol industries promote heavy drinking and sex, creating an environment that can lead to rape, fatal injuries and death by alcohol poisoning. We agree with parents that we must put an end to these promotions that target students, most of whom are underage."


Hill cited a promotion created by the Panama City Beach, FL, Convention and Visitors Bureau that has appeared in campus newspapers nationwide. This 12-page insert consists of spring break advertisements from hotels and clubs, many featuring an endless supply of alcohol. One example reads, "Plus, pay 5 bucks, and you can drink all the beer you can handle -- every day."


"We don't have a problem with people promoting spring break destinations," said Lisa Elk, a spokeswoman for A Matter of Degree. "What we do think is a problem, and what we do believe is irresponsible, is when direct marketers or marketers in general promote heavy drinking as part of the spring break promotional processes."


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