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BMJ. 1997 Feb 8;314(7078):414-8.

Young people, alcohol, and designer drinks: quantitative and qualitative study.

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  • 1Centre for Social Marketing, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.



To examine the appeal of "designer drinks" to young people.


Qualitative and quantitative research comprising group discussions and questionnaire led interviews with young people accompanied by a self completion questionnaire.


Argyll and Clyde Health Board area, west Scotland.


Eight groups aged 12-17 years; 824 aged 12-17 recruited by multistage cluster probability sample from the community health index.


Young people were familiar with designer drinks, especially MD 20/20 and leading brands of strong white cider. Attitudes towards these drinks varied quite distinctly with age, clearly reflecting their attitudes towards and motivations for drinking in general. The brand imagery of designer drinks-in contrast with that of more mainstream drinks-matched many 14 and 15 year olds' perceptions and expectations of drinking. Popularity of designer drinks peaked between the ages of 13 and 16 while more conventional drinks showed a consistent increase in popularity with age. Consumption of designer drinks tended to be in less controlled circumstances and was associated with heavier alcohol intake and greater drunkenness.


Designer drinks are a cause for concern. They appeal to young people, often more so than conventional drinks, and are particularly attractive to 14-16 year olds. Consumption of designer drinks is also associated with drinking in less controlled environments, heavier drinking, and greater drunkenness. There is a need for policy debate to assess the desirability of these drinks and the extent to which further controls on their marketing are required.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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