This paper describes adolescents’ exposure to alcohol advertising in stores and to alcohol-branded promotional items and their association with self-reported drinking.Methods
A cross-sectional survey was administered in non-tracked required courses to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders (n=2125) in three California middle schools. Logistic regressions compared the odds of ever (vs. never) drinking and current (vs. ever) drinking after controlling for psychosocial and other risk factors for adolescent alcohol use.Results
Two-thirds of middle school students reported at least weekly visits to liquor, convenience, or small grocery stores where alcohol advertising is widespread. Such exposure was associated with higher odds of ever drinking, but was not associated with current drinking. One-fifth of students reported owning at least one alcohol promotional item. These students were three times more likely to have ever tried drinking and 1.5 times more likely to report current drinking than students without such items.Conclusions
This study provides clear evidence of an association of adolescent drinking with weekly exposure to alcohol advertising in stores and with ownership of alcohol promotional items. Given their potential influence on adolescent drinking behaviour, retail ads, and promotional items for alcohol deserve further study.