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Children are increasingly being targeted by alcohol companies

Budweiser's recent campaign came in for particularly heavy criticism

Young people are drinking at an earlier age and increasing the number of drinking occasions and the quantity they drink.

The Institute of Alcohol Studies accused alcohol firms of being irresponsible in their targeting, claiming that producers are not just aiming at the 16-24 age range, but also at the 11-15 range, the so called 'starter drinkers.'

The Institute maintains that children are deliberately being given a positive image of drinking via trendy clothes and internet sites designed to appeal to youngsters. Budweiser's recent campaign came in for particularly heavy criticism for its use of free e-mail and its electronic postcards depicting moving frogs and lizards.

Gina Dafalias, the author of the report, accuses alcohol firms of 'shameless corporate greed' and warns of the knock-on effects such targeting was likely to have, saying, 'As a result, young people are drinking at an earlier age and increasing the number of drinking occasions and the quantity they drink.'

 A Group set up by the alcohol industry to monitor such trends has denied that there is anything in the allegations, calling them 'unsubstantiated' and claims that 'self regulation is working.' 

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