Science Daily: New light shed on link between alcohol marketing and increased consumption in young people

alcohol-store-booze-drinking-photo-natalie-sladeDate: March 15, 2019

Source: University of Stirling

Young people’s awareness of alcohol marketing — and their ownership of alcohol-branded merchandise — is associated with increased and higher-risk consumption, a landmark study has found.

Published in BMJ Open, the research — led by the University of Stirling and the Cancer Policy Research Centre at Cancer Research UK — revealed that 11 to 19-year-old current drinkers, who report high alcohol marketing awareness, are one-and-a-half-times more likely to be higher risk drinkers, compared to those who have low or medium awareness.

In young people who have never consumed alcohol, those who own alcohol-branded merchandise are twice as likely to be susceptible to drink in the next year, the research found.

Significantly, the paper reports that 82 per cent of young people recalled seeing at least one form of alcohol marketing in the month preceding the survey, with at least half estimated to have seen 32 or more instances — equating to one per day. Meanwhile, one fifth reported owning alcohol-branded merchandise.

The study — led by Dr Nathan Critchlow, of the University’s Institute of Social Marketing (ISM) — is the first to examine awareness of alcohol marketing and ownership of branded merchandise in a demographically representative sample of young people across the UK, including those both above and below the legal purchase age for alcohol.

Dr Critchlow said: “Alcohol marketing is more than advertising; it exists in many different forms — more commonly known as the marketing mix — and we found this was reflected in what young people recalled. More than a third of young people recalled seeing alcohol advertising through television, celebrity endorsement, and special offers in the week before they participated in the survey, while more than a fifth recalled seeing outdoors adverts or adverts on social media.

“Although alcohol consumption can be influenced by a variety of factors, we found that the association between alcohol marketing and increased consumption and higher-risk drinking in current drinkers, remained even after controlling for a range of demographic and confounders, such as parental and peer drinking. This was also true for the association between owning branded merchandise and susceptibility in never-drinkers.”

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