Parent Alert March 2024

How Alcohol and Marijuana are Marketed to Youth

Youth are exposed to alcohol and marijuana advertisements on a regular basis. One RAND study looked at the impact of alcohol advertising on youth ages 11-14 and found that they see an average of three alcohol ads per day. This study also found that this exposure leads to youth viewing alcohol and drinking more positively. These youth are not 21, so how are they being exposed to so many advertisements?

The main reason is that alcohol companies self-regulate their marketing through a set of common codes. Prevention Action Alliance says, “These codes cover how companies should place their ads on television, internet sites, social media, radio stations, and more, and they require companies to monitor how their brand is used to ensure it isn’t being aimed at underage audiences.” The issue with self-regulation is there are no consequences for failing to comply. Social media is a great example of why self-regulation does not work. Alcohol companies are able to advertise to youth on social media platforms through influencers and ads that show people having a good time while drinking with no mention of potential negative outcomes, The lack of legal oversight for social media allows these companies to do this with little pushback.

Another concern that is becoming more prevalent is combining alcohol with major brands such as Monster Energy, Mountain Dew, and Simply Lemonade to boost sales. These drinks are popular with youth, and seeing these combinations can make trying alcohol more desirable. Youth perception of harm is not as high with alcohol as other substances, so these big brand deals are a great way for alcohol companies to reinforce the idea that their products are not harmful.

The alcohol industry is not alone in this approach to advertising. The marijuana industry is taking a similar approach to make their products more appealing to youth. Did you notice that each of the packages in the image above contains THC-infused edibles? Products like these are all over the market, and it is easy to see why they appeal to youth.

The marijuana industry is unique because marijuana is still federally illegal, so regulations vary from state to state. These variations can cause confusion and lead to loopholes like taking advantage of social media. One study done by the University of Wisconsin found that most cannabis companies advertising on social media were not including required language, such as the products only being available to people 21 and older. The posts also featured cartoon characters like SpongeBob SquarePants, which is prohibited by law. Posts like these lead to a reduced perception of harm among youth, which is similar to what is happening with alcohol advertising.

One way to address these concerns is to teach your child media literacy. According to Psychology Today, “Media literacy is the ability to apply critical thinking skills to advertisements and other media messages while also engaging in thoughtful media creation.” Youth need to understand that companies want people to buy their products, and they do that by creating advertisements selling an idea of what the product can do. If youth understand how marketing works, then they will be more likely to see the risks and avoid using alcohol and marijuana.


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) observes National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW), which “connects youth with resources about drugs, alcohol, and related health topics.”  Another goal NIDA has with this week is to start a dialogue about youth substance use and addiction among everyone, including scientists, students, parents, and community partners. These conversations are important because they help everyone work together on preventing youth substance use. Check out the links below for information on how alcohol and vaping impact youth health and for some fun activities you and your child can participate in during NDAFW. Here are some we would recommend:


FDA – Vaping: Facts About E-Cigarettes
Learn About National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week: Activity Ideas
NIAA – Get the Facts About Teen Drinking

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) leads this awareness month to promote understanding, acceptance, and inclusion of individuals with developmental disabilities through advocacy and outreach. The CDC defines developmental disabilities as “a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas.” These can include autism spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, visual impairment, and others.

People with disabilities experience disparities in behavioral health outcomes in addition to other disparities they face. One national review of 37 peer-reviewed, cross-disciplinary national studies found that people who use substances have a greater risk of developing substance-related problems and are less likely to face treatment. Ohio youth with disabilities have reported higher rates of substance use than their peers who do not experience disabilities. They have also reported significantly higher rates of depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. These behavioral health disparities are just one of the many reasons why bringing awareness to developmental disabilities is important.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month was first recognized in 1987 by President Reagan to “increase public awareness of the needs and the potential of Americans with developmental disabilities.” This year’s theme is “A World of Opportunities”, and is focused on “celebrating diversity, removing barriers, and creating inclusive communities where everyone has the chance to thrive.” Here are some suggestions to get involved from AmeriDisability (America’s Disability Community):
•    Educate Yourself and Others
•    Show Support
•    Advocate for Change
•    Volunteer or Donate

Please visit the links below for more information.


March is Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month originated in 1981, when Congress passed a law authorizing the President to proclaim March 7, 1982, as the first Women’s History Week. These proclamations changed over the years and eventually led to recognizing March as Women’s History Month. This month celebrates the many contributions and achievements women have made over the course of American history.

This year’s theme is “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.” The National Women’s History Alliance says the theme showcases women who recognize that bias and discrimination need to be eliminated to achieve a positive future. Take a moment this month to recognize the amazing women in your life and thank them for everything they have done to help you succeed.

Check out the links below for a list of celebratory events and additional resources.




Thank you for being a vital part of our community!


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Our mailing address is:
Rittman SALT Coalition
c/o 104 Spink St.
Wooster, OH 44691

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