A new study has said that alcoholic beverages popular among youths pull more advertisement in magazines than those favoured by adults, leading to a higher exposure of alcohol among youngsters.
Researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Virtual Media Resources, who conducted the study, insisted alcohol companies are targeting youths through magazine advertising.
They noted that three major trade associations representing the alcoholic beverage industry - the Wine Institute, the Beer Institute, and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States - have publicly stated that they do not advertise to underage youths.
Dr. Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health and a co-author of the study, said: "Alcohol companies are deceiving us. Contrary to their public statements, they are targeting youths through their advertising. They are saying one thing, but doing another."
Alcohol advertisement placements in 118 magazines from 2002 to 2006 were compared to reach the conclusion.
Attention was given to the relationship between a magazine's youth readership and the probability of youth alcoholic beverage types -- defined as those consumed by a large proportion of youth -- being advertised in each magazine.
The researchers found that in magazines with the highest levels of youth readership, youth alcoholic beverage types (e.g., premium beer, low calorie beer, rum, vodka, and flavored alcohol beverages) were more than four times more likely to be advertised than non-youth types (e.g., gin, brandy, whiskey, and scotch).
As youth readership increased in a magazine, so did the number of youth alcoholic beverage advertisements.
The researchers identified a total of 13,513 alcohol advertisements in the 118 sample magazines during the five-year study period.
While 23.1 percent of advertisements for non-youth/adult alcoholic beverages appeared in magazines with high youth readership, 42.9 percent of advertisements for youth alcoholic beverage types were placed in the same magazines.
The authors said: "The percentage of a magazine's youth readers was an important predictor of which alcoholic beverages were advertised in a magazine.
"The question of whether this advertising is disproportionately reaching and influencing underage youths (under 21 years old) lies at the heart of the public health debate about interventions to reduce youth drinking."