Association Between Adolescent Viewership and Alcohol Advertising on Cable Television

Published in: American Journal of Public Health, v. 100, no. 3, Mar. 2010, p. 555-562

by Paul J. Chung, Craig F. Garfield, Marc N. Elliott, Joshua Ostroff, Craig Ross, David H. Jernigan, Katherine D. Vestal, Mark A. Schuster

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OBJECTIVES: We examined whether alcohol advertising on cable television is associated with adolescent viewership. METHODS: Using Nielsen data for every national cable alcohol advertisement from 2001 to 2006 (608591 ads), we examined whether ad incidence in a given advertising time slot was associated with adolescent viewership (i.e., the percentage of the audience that was aged 12-20 years) after we controlled for other demographic variables. RESULTS: Almost all alcohol ads appeared in time slots with audiences made up of 30% or fewer underage viewers. In these time slots (standardized by duration and number of viewers), each 1-percentage-point increase in adolescent viewership was associated with more beer (7%), spirits (15%), and alcopop (or low-alcohol refresher; 22%) ads, but fewer wine (-8%) ads (P<.001 for all). For spirits and alcopops, associations were stronger among adolescent girls than among adolescent boys (P<.001 for each). CONCLUSIONS: Ad placements for beer, spirits, and alcopops increased as adolescent viewership rose from 0% to 30%, especially for female viewers. Alcohol advertising practices should be modified to limit exposure of underage viewers.

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