The researchers note that they reached their conclusions after accounting for potentially confounding factors such as price per ounce, which influences affordability, and overall market share as explanations for the correlation between exposure to brand-specific alcohol advertising and underage youth consumption.

Previous studies linking youth alcohol advertising exposure to alcohol consumption have generally found small but significant associations between how much advertising young people see, hear or read, and how likely they are to start drinking or to drink more. This new research, which explores the relationship at the brand level, strongly suggests that the smaller effects found in earlier research may be a result of grouping all alcohol brands together or in broad categories of beer, wine and spirits.

"Until research showed the effects of the Joe Camel advertising campaign on what cigarette brands youth smoked, it was controversial to say that a relationship between cigarette marketing and youth cigarette consumption existed," said lead study author Michael Siegel, MD, MPH, professor of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. "Once the relationship between cigarette ads and the brands that youth were smoking was established, significant policy shifts occurred as state and federal policy makers took the issue of advertising exposure to youth much more seriously."

Alcohol is the number one drug consumed by youth and is responsible for approximately 4,300 deaths per year. Alcohol advertising in the U.S. is primarily regulated by the industry itself through a set of voluntary codes, which includes not placing any ads on television programs where a disproportionate share of the audience is younger than 21. In 2011, the alcohol industry spent at least $3.5 billion in advertising and promotional expenditures, much of it in media venues in which youth compromise a disproportionate share of the audience.

"The Relationship Between Exposure to Brand-Specific Alcohol Advertising and Brand-Specific Consumption among Underage Drinkers- United States, 2011-2012" was written by Michael Siegel, MD, MPH; Craig S. Ross, PhD, MBA; Alison B. Albers, PhD; William DeJong, PhD; Charles King III, JD, PhD; Timothy S. Naimi, MD, MPH and David H. Jernigan, PhD. The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (5R01AA020309).

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