Binge drinking study shows local bars and stores to blame

The Harvard School of Public Health on Wednesday released the results of a study investigating the effects that marketing of alcoholic products have on students.

According to a Reuters report, Harvard researchers visited roughly 2,500 bars, nightclubs and restaurants near 118 college campuses nationwide, but neglected to specify the marketing they are blaming for this collegiate phenomenon. Certainly, the current practices of bars and clubs have contributed to a rise in binge drinking.

Since the mid-’90s, many colleges have adopted a form of “social-norm” marketing, where they litter campuses with fliers and posters promoting anti-drinking slogans. The Oracle has participated in similar campaigns by running ads that showed the number of college drinkers has decreased. But statistics compiled by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) contradict the positive anti-drinking slogans, showing that such campaigns are ineffective in preventing binge drinking.

The NIAAA reports that between 1993 and 2001, 44 percent of college students were considered binge drinkers. To meet this label, a male must consume five or more drinks in one sitting on at least one occasion a week, while females need only drink four or more. While the percentage of students abstaining from drinking has risen from 16 percent in 1993 to 19 percent in 2001, the percentage of students involved in frequent drinking has ncreased from 19.7 percent in 1993 to 22.8 percent in 2001. If these numbers weren’t enough, students who reportedly drink to get drunk have risen from 40 percent in 1993 to near 50 percent in 2001.

With discounts offered to students for showing their college identification and drink specials promoted like “kill the keg” and “three-for-one” on a daily basis, it’s no wonder that binge drinking is on the rise. College students will drink for many reasons, whether it be their newly found freedom or peer pressure. More than 1,400 college students are killed from alcohol-related causes annually, according to the NIAAA.

As long as they can buy a beer for a quarter, students couldn’t care less whether a celebrity or a football team is drinking the same brand. Since “social-norm” marketing doesn’t seem to be decreasing the number of binge drinkers, then responsible drinking habits need to be promoted alongside drink specials.

More often than not, it is the promoters and bar owners encouraging students to drink excessively rather than corporate advertising. Regardless, responsibility and moderation need to be promoted as often as accessibility.