Booze: Homer Simpson vs. Italy

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The beer commercials on television that show people chugging down a brewski after a sweaty workout are designed to in some way to associate booze with good health routines. Perhaps the Homer Simpson scenario, where he drinks to oblivion at Moe’s Tavern, reflects alcohol consumption more accurately for many people.

Bicycling‘s Gloria Liu wrote about the association of booze with bicycling:

Alcohol, especially beer, is infused into many aspects of cycling. It’s in the bike shops, where customers still tip mechanics in six-packs. It’s been at industry trade shows like Interbike (R.I.P.) and Sea Otter, where bros in flat-brim caps drink openly while working their booths.

It’s at cyclocross races, where #handupsarenotacrime; and gravel races, where aid stations offer whiskey shots. It’s been in the pages of this magazine, in stories like the ode I once wrote to the postride parking lot beer.

When does drinking become problematic? Certainly when behaviors get dangerous, like binge drinking or drunk driving. But a booze-soaked bike scene may pose more insidious hazards, particularly to women.

One recent development, the world-wide trend for young people to be drinking less alcohol than their parents did, is good news.

An article in The Conversation by Sarah J MacLean, Amy Pennay, Gabriel Caluzzi, John Holmes and Jukka Törrönen deals with this phenomenon. They reported:

Researchers conducting interview-based studies with young people in a range of countries have identified four main reasons for declining youth drinking.

These are: uncertainty and worry about the future, concern about health, changes to technology and leisure, and shifting relationships with parents.

The European Journal of Public Health reported:

Alcohol consumption among adolescents is well established as a risk factor for a range of negative health and social outcomes. In a positive trend, substantial declines in adolescent drinking have been observed in many high-income countries over the past two decades.

The proliferation of bars and gastropubs in T-Town may not reflect this worldwide trend. But the United States is often behind the rest of the world.

In countries such as Italy, although there isn’t an equivalent alcohol abuse problem, the influence of American youth abroad has been detrimental.

Outrageous behavior, such as the drunk American tourists who urinated in a historic fountain in Florence, Italy, has been common enough so that increased regulation has been in order. In Rome and other Italian cities, drinking is prohibited near their famed fountains.

Ben James Simboli wrote that drinking behavior is “culturally learned.” The “traditional use of wine and beliefs related to wine drinking” for Italian-Americans changed. Problem drinking for younger generations of Italian Americans ensued.

Binge drinking in the United States by teenagers remains a major problem according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as reported by the American Addiction Centers.

Advertising for alcohol during sports events and alcohol sales at sports venues in the United States can lead to under age drinking. Northstar Traditions explained:

According to a study published by the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, younger adolescents are more susceptible to alcohol advertisements shown on TV than older age groups. This population is more likely to take away a positive reaction to alcohol because of the ads, predicting future alcohol use. Some youth are influenced to drink more, leading to excessive drinking and other consequences related to being exposed to these ads at a young age.

Sales of alcohol at University of Alabama athletic facilities will be “a net positive for the school,” according to University of Alabama President Dr. Stuart Bell, as reported by the Tuscaloosa Thread‘s Stephen Dethrage.

In Italy, as explained by Federico Di Vizio, there are restrictions on advertising:

Direct or indirect advertising of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages is expressly forbidden in places frequented mainly by minors under 18 years of age and radio and television advertising of non-alcoholic beverages during the period from 4 pm to 7 pm.

He also wrote that “according to the Italian Code of Self-discipline for Commercial Communication, commercial communications must be avoided which encourage excessive and uncontrolled use of alcoholic beverages, which induce the public to disregard the different methods of consumption that need to be considered about the products or the personal conditions of the consumer, or which associate the driving of vehicles with the use of alcoholic beverages.” Di Visio cited one case of an ad that was adjudicated:

For example, a glaring case of advertising which does not comply with the principles of our legal system is represented by the decision of the Jury regarding a message conveyed by a well-known beer producer.

The advertisement depicted the bestowal of beer first offered in spurts, then with a “fountain” jet and again, in crescendo, in a “cascade”. In this case, the Jury considered that the images and the message were not compatible with the picture because of the conveyance of a message contrary to the principles of moderation and responsibility in drinking.

That standard could be contrasted with the beer ads that are shown on American television, as The Drum‘s Kenneth Hein reported.

At least University of Alabama students studying abroad in Italy have been kept on a short leash and have put back on a plane to T-Town whenever their behavior has gotten out of hand. That’s surely a “net positive for the school.”


One thought on “Booze: Homer Simpson vs. Italy

  1. Julie K Evelsizer says:

    When he says “net positive,” he means a net profit, period. And it’is crass to waste a trip to Rome drinking and urinating in fountains. You can do that here, the fountains are just not as venerable.

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