23rd April 2021. From Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS).

New research finds association between adolescents finding alcohol adverts appealing and never drinkers’ susceptibility to drink.

A new study published in the journal Alcohol & Alcoholism has found alcohol adverts commonly appeal to underage adolescents.

Half of 11-17-year-olds surveyed reacted positively to the adverts featuring Fosters and Smirnoff brands (53% and 52% respectively), and a third reacted positively to an advert featuring the Haig Club brand (34%). Among adolescents who had never drunk alcohol, associations were seen between positive reactions to the adverts and susceptibility to drink in the next year, leading researchers to call for UK policymakers to consider tighter alcohol advertising legislation.

Lead author of the study, Dr Sadie Boniface, who is head of research at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said: We already knew that exposure to alcohol marketing is high among young people. We wanted to build on other studies that spoke directly to young people about their views, taking advantage of the large number of adolescents in this study. Based on what we know from other research, it was not a surprise that these adverts commonly appealed to young people.

The association between positive reactions to the adverts and being susceptible to drink among underage adolescents who have never tried alcohol is of particular concern. This was consistent for each of the three adverts studied. Taken together with other research, there is strong evidence the current UK alcohol marketing regulations are inadequate in protecting young people from being exposed to content that does appeal to them and influences their behaviour.

A more complex analysis of the relationship between positive reactions to the alcohol adverts and alcohol use found that:

  • Among approximately 1,500 adolescents who had never drunk alcohol, having a positive reaction to each of the adverts was associated with around one and a half times increased odds of being susceptible to drink in the next year
  • Among approximately 900 current drinkers, positive reactions to two of the three adverts were associated with around 1.4 times increased odds of being a higher risk drinker



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