Alcohol marketing and young people’s drinking habits – the evidence base

Alcohol Action Ireland appeared before the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications this morning and made the case that alcohol sponsorship of sports should be phased out in the interests of the health and well being of future generations of Irish people.

During the questions and answers session that followed the opening statements, there was a request from members of the Committee regarding further details of the strong evidence base referenced by Professor Joe Barry, Dr Bobby Smyth and their colleagues from the College of Psychiatry showing that alcohol marketing, including advertising and sponsorship, increases the likelihood that a young person will begin drinking earlier in life and, if they are already drinking, to drink more.

Some of the key studies in this regard (all titles below link directly to the reports themselves) are as follows:

Report on the impact of European alcohol marketing exposure on youth alcohol expectancies and youth drinking: “Alcohol-branded   sport sponsorship (similar to alcohol marketing practices in other media channels) can be seen   as a serious but avoidable danger to adolescents’ health.”

Does marketing communication impact on the volume and patterns of consumption of alcoholic beverages, especially by young people? ““Alcohol marketing, including advertising, sponsorship and other forms of promotion, increases the likelihood that adolescents will start to use alcohol, and to drink more if they are already using alcohol.”

Impact of Alcohol Advertising and Media Exposure on Adolescent Alcohol Use: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal Studies: “This review found consistent evidence to link alcohol advertising with the uptake of drinking among non-drinking young people, and increased consumption among their drinking peers.”

For further comprehensive studies and reports on alcohol marketing and its impact on the drinking habits of young people (as well as reports and studies on the extent to which children and young people are consistently exposed to positive, risk-free images of alcohol through advertising and sponsorship) please see the Alcohol & Marketing Reports section of this website.

As was pointed out by Professor Barry this morning, “the sporting bodies and the alcohol industry are incorrect when they state that there is no evidence that sports sponsorship by drinks companies influences children – and that is what they are – to drink.”