Drug and Alcohol Review; Norman Giesbrecht, Emilene Reisdorfer and Kevin Shield; May 2024


Issues: Advertising and marketing affect alcohol use; however, no single systematic review has covered all aspects of how they affect alcohol use, and how the alcohol industry views alcohol marketing restrictions.
Approach: Two systematic reviews of reviews were performed according to the Preferred Reporting Items on 2 February 2023. Results were analysed using a narrative synthesis approach.

Key Findings: Twenty-three reviews were included in the systematic reviews. The first systematic review examined youth and adolescents (11 reviews), digital or internet marketing (3 reviews), alcohol marketing’s impact on cognition (3 reviews), and alcohol marketing and policy options (2 reviews). The second systematic review focused on alcohol industry (i.e., importers, producers, distributors, retailers and advertising firms) response to advertising restrictions (four reviews). The reviews indicated that there is evidence that alcohol marketing (including digital marketing) is associated with increased intentions to drink, levels of consumption and harmful drinking among youth and young adults. Studies on cognition indicate that advertisements focusing on appealing contexts and outcomes may be more readily accepted by adolescents, and may be less easily extinguished in this population. The review of the alcohol industry found a strong desire to self-regulate alcohol advertising.

Implications: We found alcohol advertising and marketing is associated with increased drinking intentions, consumption and harmful drinking. Thus, policies which restrict advertising may be an effective way to reduce alcohol use. 

Conclusion: More research is needed to assess all aspects of the observed associations, especially as to how marketing policies impact women and people with alcohol dependence.

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