Context: Adolescent drinking is a major public health concern. The federal government does not restrict alcohol advertising to adolescents, but relies on the alcohol industry for self-regulation. Objectives: To investigate recent alcohol advertising in magazines and to determine whether advertising frequency is associated with adolescent readership. Design, Setting, and Subjects: All alcohol advertisements were counted that appeared from 1997-2001 in 35 of 48 major US magazines, which tracked their adolescent readership (3 refused all alcohol advertisements; and advertisement counts were unavailable for 10). Variation was assessed in the advertisement placement frequency for each major category of alcohol (beer, wine and wine coolers, and distilled liquor) by a magazine's adolescent readership (age 12-19 years), young adult readership (age 20-24 years), and older adult readership (age ≥25 years); readership demographics (sex, race, and income); year; frequency of publication; and cost per advertisement. Main Outcome Measure: Variation in alcohol advertising frequency by adolescent readership. Results: Adolescent readership ranged from 1.0 to 7.1 million. The alcohol industry placed 9148 advertisements at a cost of $696 million. Of the 9148 advertisements, 1201 (13%) were for beer, 443 (5%) for wine, and 7504 (82%) for liquor. After adjustment for other magazine characteristics, the advertisement rate ratio was 1.6 times more for beer (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0-2.6; P=.05) and liquor (95% CI, 1.1-2. 3; P=.01) for every additional million adolescent readers. Wine industry advertising was not associated with adolescent readership. Conclusions: Magazine advertising by the beer and liquor industries is associated with adolescent readership. Industry and federal policymakers should examine ways to regulate advertising that reaches large numbers of adolescents.
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