TV alcohol ads tied to problem drinking for teens, study finds

TV alcohol ads tied to problem drinking for teens, study finds
Researchers saw correlation between the commercials and drinking initiation, binge drinking.

(HealthDay)—A new study finds a link between the number of TV ads for alcohol a teen views, and their odds for problem drinking.

Higher "familiarity" with booze ads "was associated with the subsequent onset of across a range of outcomes of varying severity among adolescents and young adults," wrote a team led by Dr. Susanne Tanski of Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

Their work involved nearly 1,600 participants, aged 15 to 23, who were surveyed in 2011 and again in 2013.

Alcohol ads on TV were seen by about 23 percent of those aged 15 to 17, nearly 23 percent of those aged 18 to 20, and nearly 26 percent of those aged 21 to 23, the study found.

The study wasn't designed to prove cause-and-effect. However, the more receptive the teens were to on TV, the more likely they were to start drinking, or to progress from drinking to binge drinking or hazardous drinking, Tanski's team found.

Movement towards binge drinking and occurred among 29 percent and 18 percent of those aged 15 to 17, respectively, and among 29 percent and 19 percent of those aged 18 to 20, respectively.

The findings were published online Jan. 19 in JAMA Pediatrics.

The research adds to "studies suggesting that alcohol advertising is one cause of youth drinking," the study authors said in a journal news release. They believe that current regulations on TV ads for alcohol products "inadequately protect underage youth."

But one expert took issue with the study.

"There are too many compounding variables to draw a correlation between TV ads and drinking behavior among youths," said Janina Kean, a substance abuse and addiction expert, and president of the Kent, Conn.-based High Watch Recovery Center.

She said that the study "doesn't take into consideration some of the other risk factors that might cause or lead someone to be more receptive to ," such as a person's genetics or family history of alcohol problems.

"Lack of guidance at home, other family members with alcohol issues, and dysfunctional family relationships are all factors that can contribute to a person's issues with alcohol, and explain why alcohol-related advertising would have been memorable for such a person," Kean reasoned.

According to background information included in the study, alcohol remains the most widely used drug among young Americans. In 2013, about 66 percent of U.S. high school students said they had tried alcohol, nearly 35 percent said they'd drank in the past 30 days, and nearly 21 percent reported recent .

Explore further

TV alcohol advertising may play role in underage drinking

More information: The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more about alcohol and health.
Journal information: JAMA Pediatrics

Copyright © 2015 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Citation: TV alcohol ads tied to problem drinking for teens, study finds (2015, January 19) retrieved 23 September 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jan 20, 2015
As we 60 year olds know, everything cycles. After WWII there were many movies seeming built around the glass of whiskey and whisps of cigarette smoke. Campaigns eliminated the whiskey billboards on the highways, then cigarette ads were banned from magazines but then magazines were in reduction and tv ruled so then tv was strongly encouraged to ban them, the last we thought was the Joe Camel ads directed at children.
Sadly, 20 years later, the cycle has renewed and whiskey and smoking have reappeared in movies.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more