23 October 2015

Alcohol ads strongly influence teens' choices

A study found that marketing exposure is increasingly recognised as an important factor in youth drinking.

A new study found that advertising strongly influences which brands of alcohol teens drink.

The study found that 13- to 20-year-olds are over five times more likely to drink brands advertised on national television and 36 percent more likely to drink brands advertised in national magazines, compared to brands that don't advertise in these media.

Read: More teens resort to alcohol

The results are from an online national survey conducted by the Centre on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Boston University School of Public Health.

More than 1,000 underage drinkers were asked which of nearly 900 alcohol brands available in the United States they had consumed in the past month.

Significant policy shifts

The survey was conducted between December 2011 and May 2012.

"Marketing exposure is increasingly recognised as an important factor in youth drinking, yet few studies have examined the relationship between overall advertising exposure and alcohol consumption at the brand level," lead co-author David Jernigan said in a Hopkins news release.

Jernigan is director of the centre and an associate professor of health, behaviour and society at Hopkins.

Read: Teen drinkers become alcoholics

"These findings indicate that youth are, in fact, consuming the same alcohol brands that they are most heavily exposed to via advertising," he said.

Co-lead author Dr Michael Siegel said it used to be controversial to suggest that a relationship existed between cigarette marketing and youth smoking until researchers showed the impact of the Joe Camel advertising campaign on kids.

"Once the relationship between cigarette ads and the brands that youth were smoking was established, significant policy shifts occurred as state and federal policy makers took the issue of advertising exposure to youth much more seriously," Siegel, a professor of community health sciences at Boston University, said in the news release.

Alcohol is the most widely used drug among American youth. Alcohol advertising is primarily self-regulated by the industry, the study authors said.

The study was published online in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

Read more: 

Teens drawn to heavily advertised alcoholic brands 

Alcohol's effect on the brain  

Parents influence teen drinking