Authors: Jonathan K. Noel, Thomas F. Babor and Katherine Robaina
Title: Industry self-regulation of alcohol marketing: a systematic review of content and exposure research
Journal: Addiction, (2016). DOI: 10.1111/add.13410
Background and aims: With governments relying increasingly upon the alcohol industry’s self-regulated marketing codes to restrict alcohol marketing activity, there is a need to summarize the findings of research relevant to alcohol marketing controls. This paper provides a systematic review of studies investigating the content of, and exposure to, alcohol marketing in relation to self-regulated guidelines.
Method: Peer-reviewed papers were identified through four literature search engines: SCOPUS, Web of Science, PubMed and PsychINFO. Non-peer-reviewed reports produced by public health agencies, alcohol research centers, non-governmental organizations and government research centers were also identified. Ninety-six publications met the inclusion criteria.
Results: Of the 19 studies evaluating a specific marketing code and 25 content analysis studies reviewed, all detected content that could be considered potentially harmful to children and adolescents, including themes that appeal strongly to young men. Of the 57 studies of alcohol advertising exposure, high levels of youth exposure and high awareness of alcohol advertising were found for television, radio, print, digital and outdoor advertisements. Youth exposure to alcohol advertising has increased over time, even as greater compliance with exposure thresholds has been documented.
Conclusion: Violations of the content guidelines within self-regulated alcohol marketing codes are highly prevalent in certain media. Exposure to alcohol marketing, particularly among youth, is also prevalent. Taken together, the findings suggest that the current self-regulatory systems that govern alcohol marketing practices are not meeting their intended goal of protecting vulnerable populations.