Underage drinkers overexposed to magazine advertising for the brands they consume

The brands of alcohol popular with underage drinkers also happen to be the ones heavily advertised in magazines that young people read, a new study finds.

The findings, reported in July's Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, add to evidence that ads can encourage kids to drink.

They also suggest that the 's self-imposed standards on advertising are inadequate, said lead researcher Craig Ross, Ph.D., M.B.A., of the Natick, Mass.,-based Virtual Media Resources.

"All of the ads in our study were in complete compliance with the industry's self-regulatory guidelines," Ross said.

According to those standards, alcohol ads should be placed only in magazines where less than 30 percent of the readers are younger than 21. Yet, based on the new findings, underage readers see plenty of glossy magazine ads for beer and distilled spirits.

For the study, Ross and his colleagues from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Boston University School of Public Health examined that ran in U.S. magazines in 2011—with a particular eye toward the top 25 alcohol brands consumed by youth under the .

They found that, overall, those brands appeared much more effective in reaching young magazine readers, versus 308 other alcohol brands that are less popular with the underage crowd.

Manufacturers of 11 of the 25 brands most popular with underage males exposed 18- to 20-year-olds most heavily. The same was true for 16 of the top 25 brands among underage females.

In all, those popular brands were five to nine times more likely to have 18- to 20-year-olds in their most heavily exposed audience, compared with all other brands.

"We can't speak to what advertisers' intentions are," said study co-author David Jernigan, Ph.D., director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "But we can say there is clear evidence that 18- to 20-year-olds are the most heavily exposed to these ads."

"That's concerning," he added, "because that age group is at high risk of alcohol abuse and negative consequences from drinking."

Ross noted that underage exposure to would be reduced if the industry would agree to stricter standards—such as limiting ads to magazines where less than 15 percent of readers are under age 21.

For now, Ross said, parents could help by educating their kids, from a young age, to be savvy media consumers.

"Parents should take note that scientific evidence is growing that exposure to alcohol advertising promotes drinking initiation," he noted, "and is likely to increase the frequency of consumption for kids already drinking."

More information: Ross, C. S., Ostroff, J., Siegel, M. B., DeJong, W., Naimi, T. S., & Jernigan, D. H. (July 2014). Youth alcohol brand consumption and exposure to brand advertising in magazines. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 75(4), 615-622.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Online tool estimates youth exposure to alcohol ads on radio

Apr 10, 2012

A new online tool from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health determines the extent of exposure to radio alcohol advertisements among young people ages 12 to ...

Recommended for you

Study confirms breast cancer link to low alcohol use

Sep 26, 2014

A newly published study from the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) confirms that moderate drinkers have an increased risk of breast cancer. The study shows that consuming an average of ...

Not all Hispanics are the same when it comes to drinking

Sep 25, 2014

Hispanics are often grouped into a single category when it comes to alcohol use. Yet a new Michigan State University study indicates that the risk of alcohol abuse and dependence can vary significantly among different subgroups ...

Researchers find NAS treatment needs standardization

Sep 25, 2014

When it comes to treating infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) believe the care for these infants should be consistent and objective, with standardized ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Lex Talonis
not rated yet Jul 08, 2014
Well we know this......

Why don't we have punch a drug pusher in the face day - for all the booze producers and their lying sleazy advertising agency people?