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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2017 Oct;41(10):1775-1782. doi: 10.1111/acer.13477. Epub 2017 Sep 13.

Alcohol Advertising in Magazines and Underage Readership: Are Underage Youth Disproportionately Exposed?

Author information

Pleiades Consulting Group, Inc. , Lincoln, Massachusetts.
Department of Community Health Sciences , Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Epidemiology , Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Health, Behavior, and Society , Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.



The question of whether underage youth are disproportionately exposed to alcohol advertising lies at the heart of the public health debate about whether restrictions on alcohol advertising are warranted. The aim of this study was to determine whether alcohol brands popular among underage (ages 12 to 20 years) drinkers ("underage brands") are more likely than others ("other brands") to advertise in magazines with high underage readerships.


We analyze the advertising of 680 alcohol brands in 49 magazines between 2006 and 2011. Using a random effects probit model, we examine the relationship between a magazine's underage readership and the probability of an underage or other brand advertising in a magazine, controlling for young adult (ages 21 to 29 years) and total readerships, advertising costs and expenditures, and readership demographics.


We find that underage brands are more likely than other brands to advertise in magazines with a higher percentage of underage readers. Holding all other variables constant at their sample means, the probability of an "other" brand advertising in a magazine remains essentially constant over the range of underage readership from 0.010 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.007 to 0.013) at 5% to 0.012 (95% CI, 0.008 to 0.016) at 35%. In contrast, the probability of an underage brand advertising nearly quadruples, ranging from 0.025 (95% CI, 0.015 to 0.035) to 0.096 (95% CI, 0.057 to 0.135), where underage brands are 7.90 (95% CI, 3.89 to 11.90) times more likely than other brands to advertise.


Alcohol brands popular among underage drinkers are more likely than other brands to advertise in magazines with high underage readerships, resulting in the disproportionate exposure of underage youth. Current voluntary advertising industry guidelines are not adequate to protect underage youth from high and disproportionate exposure to alcohol advertising in magazines. To limit advertising exposure among underage youth, policy makers may want to consider regulation of alcohol advertising in magazines.


Advertising; Alcohol; Magazines; Marketing; Youth

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