Objectives: To measure girls' and boys' exposure to alcohol advertising in magazines and to compare this exposure with that of legal-age persons.
Design, setting, and subjects: Alcohol advertisements (N = 6239) in 103 national magazines for which placement, audience, and cost data for 2001 and 2002 were available, categorized by year, beverage type, and brand. Placement and readership (age and sex) data generated estimates of media exposure for the age groups 12 to 20, 21 to 34, and 21 years and older.
Main outcome measures: Gross rating points, an advertising industry standard measure of the level of media exposure of a given population, and gross rating point ratios comparing exposure of different demographic groups.
Results: Alcohol companies spent 590.4 million US dollars to place 471 beer and ale advertisements (8%), 4748 distilled spir-its advertisements (76%), 116 low-alcohol refresher advertisements (2%), and 904 advertisements for wine (14%) in magazines in 2001 and 2002. In 2002, underage youth saw 45% more beer and ale advertising, 12% more distilled spirits advertising, 65% more low-alcohol refresher advertising, and 69% less advertising for wine than persons 21 years and older. Girls aged 12 to 20 years were more likely to be exposed to beer, ale, and low-alcohol refresher advertising than women in the group aged 21 to 34 or women in the group aged 21 years and older. Girls' exposure to low-alcohol refresher advertising increased by 216% from 2001 to 2002, while boys' exposure increased 46%.
Conclusion: Exposure of underage girls to alcohol advertising is substantial and increasing, pointing to the failure of industry self-regulation and the need for further action.