Adolescents who have the ability to resist alcohol advertising gimmicks and peer pressure are less likely to indulge in alcohol use, according to a new study.
Previous studies have shown how advertising and influence of peers promotes adolescent alcohol use.
The new study conducted over a period of three years by Weill Cornell Medical College involved inner-city middle school students.
"There are many pressures on teens to drink. One very powerful influence is advertising — from television to billboards, it's everywhere," said Dr. Jennifer A. Epstein, lead author and assistant professor of public health in the Division of Prevention and Health Behaviour at Weill Cornell Medical College.
"Our study found their ability to be critically aware of advertising as well as their ability to resist peer pressure are both key skills for avoiding alcohol," she added.
The researchers examined the data of surveys conducted over 2,000 predominantly African-American adolescents from 13 inner-city junior high schools in New York City over three years.
The findings revealed that seventh graders who were critically aware of advertising were significantly less likely to drink alcohol as ninth graders.
These seventh graders were more likely to have developed better skills for resisting peer pressure by the eighth grade, thus reducing their odds of drinking.
The students with media resistance and peer refusal skills (saying "no"), were less likely to succumb to advertising and peer pressure to drink alcohol subsequently in the ninth grade.
"Our findings point to the need for prevention programs that teach adolescents media resistance skills and peer refusal skills to reduce the likelihood that they will succumb to the powerful dual influences of alcohol advertising and peer pressure," said Dr. Gilbert J. Botvin, the senior author; professor of psychology in public health and professor of psychology in psychiatry; and chief of the Public Health Department's Division of Prevention and Health Behaviour.
The study appears online in the journal Addictive Behaviours.