Does Alcohol Advertising Induce Underage Drinking?

Eamon Molloy, Cornell University

Underage drinking and alcohol abuse are causes for significant and widespread public health concern. We study whether alcohol advertisements influence underage drinking decisions. We use rich nationally-representative and individual-level consumer data to generate measures of drinking behavior for both underage and overage survey respondents. These data include highly detailed measures of individual television viewing and magazine reading behavior. We combine these individual measures of media viewing with a comprehensive database of the placement of alcohol advertisements in magazines and market-level summaries of alcohol advertising on television to generate individual estimates of how alcohol advertising exposure affects drinking. Importantly, we observe the same characteristics marketers use to determine where to place advertisements. Consequently, we can control for the targeting of alcohol advertisements. We find a positive and significant relationship between alcohol consumption and advertising exposure in both underage and overage samples.

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Presented in Session 64: Social Determinants of Health Risking Behaviors