Magazines Popular with Youth More Likely to Contain Alcohol Ads, Study Finds

Magazines with the highest proportion of young readers also are the most likely to contain alcohol ads, according to researchers who accused the alcohol industry of intentionally marketing to underage drinkers.

Science Daily reported Dec. 3 that researchers studied ad placements in 118 magazines between 2002 and 2006 and found that products that are most popular with young drinkers — such as flavored drinks, premium beer, low-calorie beer, vodka, and rum — were four times more likely to appear in publications with the highest levels of youth readership than products that are less popular with young drinkers, like gin, brandy, whiskey and scotch.

“The percentage of a magazine’s youth readers was an important predictor of which alcoholic beverages were advertised in a magazine,” said researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Virtual Media Resources.

Industry groups like the Wine Institute, Beer Institute and the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. deny marketing to underage drinkers, and some have adopted standards that bar advertising in media with significant percentages of youth readers.

“Alcohol companies are deceiving us,” said study co-author Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health. “Contrary to their public statements, they are targeting youths through their advertising. They are saying one thing, but doing another.”

The study appears in the December 2009 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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