Alcohol Ads Linked to Adolescent Drinking -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

The study conducted by the non-profit research organisation RAND of 1,786 children in the sixth and seventh grades found that those exposed to alcohol advertising at high levels - from television, magazines, in-store displays and promotional items like T-shirts and posters - were 50 percent more likely to drink and 36 percent more likely to intend to drink than children whose exposure to alcohol advertising was very low.

Previous studies have found that adolescents on average see at least 245 television ads for alcoholic beverages every year, and that these ads may promote drinking. The RAND study also asked adolescents about advertising in magazines, radio and elsewhere, along with whether they owned any promotional items from alcoholic beverage companies.

“Parents may be aware that advertising may promote drinking among early adolescents,” said Rebecca L. Collins, a RAND senior behavioural scientist and lead author of the study. “Parents often think they don't have to worry about their kids drinking before they get to high school, but sixth grade - or even before then - is the time to talk with children about alcohol marketing techniques, as well as drinking,” Collins added. “Getting kids to think critically about ads may lessen any effects the ads have.”

Like other studies, the RAND research found that television ads, which mostly appear during sports programming, are a key factor. 19 percent of children who owned a hat, poster or T-shirt promoting alcohol were nearly twice as likely to drink or intend to drink as other youngsters.

“We were a little surprised by how common these promotional items were,” Collins said. “Parents can make a difference by keeping promotional merchandise from their kids. My guess is that many parents think it's harmless: your kid has a Budweiser T-shirt, it's just funny. But it probably is a subtle communication to kids that beer drinking is cool.”; Source: The RAND Corporation