Alcohol advertising leads to underage drinking
Officials say we need tougher laws on booze marketing
If you weren’t sure whether those beer or hard seltzer commercials were affecting your teens, a new study concludes what we suspected.
Alcohol advertising can lead to underage drinking, according to new research.
A series of reviews published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that the marketing of alcohol beverages is one cause of underage drinking.
As a result, public health experts have suggested that countries need to formulate laws that limit exposure to alcohol marketing, and restrict message appeal to young people.
The eight review articles published as a supplement to JSAD synthesized the results of 163 studies which looked at alcohol advertising and youth alcohol consumption.
In the supplement’s conclusion, James D. Sargent, M.D., of the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth, and Thomas F. Babor, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Connecticut, wrote: "[T]here is persuasive evidence that exposure to alcohol marketing is one cause of drinking onset during adolescence and also one cause of binge drinking.”
The reviews’ authors used a criteria to figure out whether marketing is a cause of youth drinking. They looked at aspects like the strength of the association, the consistency of the link, the timing of the exposure with the outcome, and biological and psychological plausibility.
They concluded that there’s a modest but meaningful association between alcohol advertising and youth drinking.
This seems like an obvious conclusion, but this is actually the first time a public health expert has explicitly concluded that advertising causes drinking among young people.
The authors recommended that:
- Government agencies – independent from the alcohol industry – restrict alcohol marketing exposures in the adolescent population;
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Office of the Surgeon General sponsor a series of reports on alcohol and health, similar to the ones that have been published on tobacco;
- The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism bring back its program to fund research on alcohol marketing and vulnerable populations;
- A larger international panel of public health experts be brought together in order to reach a broader consensus, particularly in relation to digital marketing.
Do companies need to take more responsibility in how they market alcohol?