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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Youth Exposure to Alcohol Advertising in Magazines --- United States, 2001--2005

MMWR Weekly August 3, 2007 / 56(30);763-767

Alcohol consumption among persons aged 12--20 years contributes to the three leading causes of death (unintentional injury, homicide, and suicide) in this age group in the United States and is associated with other health-risk behaviors, including high-risk sexual activity, smoking, and physical fighting .

Recent studies have documented the contribution of alcohol marketing to underage drinking In 2000, the trade association for the wine industry changed its voluntary marketing code to stop advertising in magazines in which youths aged 12--20 years were >30% of the audience. In 2003, this threshold was adopted by the trade associations for beer and liquor producers.

To determine the proportion of alcohol advertisements placed in magazines with disproportionately large youth readerships (i.e., >15% of readers aged 12--20 years) and to assess the proportion of youths exposed to these advertisements, the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (Health Policy Institute, Georgetown University, District of Columbia) evaluated the placement of alcohol advertisements in 143 national magazines for which readership composition data were available for 2001--2005; these 143 publications accounted for approximately 90% of expenditures for all alcohol advertising in national print magazines.

This report summarizes the results of that study, which indicated that alcohol advertising remained common in magazines with >15% youth readership but decreased substantially in magazines with >30% youth readership. These results suggest that although voluntary industry standards have reduced youth exposure to alcohol advertising in magazines, strengthening these standards by establishing a >15% youth readership threshold would further reduce exposure. In addition, independent monitoring of youth exposure to alcohol advertising should continue, as recommended by the U.S. Congress and Surgeon General .

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