Study finds correlation between alcohol ads and underage drinking

A new study has found a correlation between underage teenage drinkers’ favorite brands of alcohol and advertisements for those same brands in magazines. This proves that even though the Internet permeates everything that young people do read magazines and are clearly influenced by what they read and see in these publications.

This month, the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that even though these alcohol brands may aim their advertisements towards adults of legal drinking age that they don’t always quite reach that mark and may have to question their standards. According to the study, these standards currently state that only about 30 percent of alcohol advertisements should appear in magazines aimed at readers aged 21 or younger.

Craig Ross from Virtual Media Resources and one of the main researchers of the study made a statement about the findings in a news release for the journal. “All of the ads in our study were in complete compliance with the industry’s self-regulatory guidelines.”

The study encompassed all American alcohol advertisements that appeared in magazines anytime in 2011. However, the study honed in on the biggest 25 alcohol companies that young people tend to favor. The researchers found that those 25 brands tended to have more advertisements in magazines compared to 308 researched brands that don’t resonate as much with the younger crowd.

More upsettingly, the study also revealed that those brands have a strong influence. There’s a five to nine time chance that underage drinkers between 18 and 20 years old will see those ads and possibly become curious about those brands of alcohol.

Another author of the study, the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s director David Jernigan, highlighted this information in a statement about the study. “We can’t speak to what advertisers’ intentions are. 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 because that age group is at a high risk of alcohol abuse and negative consequences from drinking.”

Ross and the other researchers realize what an impact this can have on worried parents that want to keep their teenagers away from alcohol. “Parents should take note that scientific evidence is growing that exposure to alcohol advertising promotes drinking initiation and is likely to increase the frequency of consumption for kids already drinking,” he stated.

Therefore, Ross advises that parents should discuss these advertisements with their teens, including the sway that these ads hold. Parents should also encourage their teens to stay away from alcohol until they are of legal age.