Purpose: To determine whether early adolescents who are exposed to alcohol marketing are subsequently more likely to drink. Recent studies suggest that exposure to alcohol ads has a limited influence on drinking in mid-adolescence. Early adolescents may be more vulnerable to alcohol advertising effects.
Methods: Two in-school surveys of 1786 South Dakota youth measured exposure to television beer advertisements, alcohol ads in magazines, in-store beer displays and beer concessions, radio-listening time, and ownership of beer promotional items during 6th grade, and drinking intentions and behavior at 7th grade. Multivariate regression equations predicted the two drinking outcomes using the advertising exposure variables and controlling for psychosocial factors and prior drinking.
Results: After adjusting for covariates, the joint effect of exposure to advertising from all six sources at grade 6 was strongly predictive of grade 7 drinking and grade 7 intentions to drink. Youth in the 75th percentile of alcohol marketing exposure had a predicted probability of drinking that was 50% greater than that of youth in the 25th percentile.
Conclusions: Although causal effects are uncertain, policy makers should consider limiting a variety of marketing practices that could contribute to drinking in early adolescence.