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by at least one industry member. Some advocacy groups have recommended that the audience proportion threshold be reduced to 10 percent and that it be coupled with a numerical maximum (e.g., 1 million youths) to take account of the size of the audience and the absolute number of young people likely to be exposed to the ads. However, the committee does not regard this as a practical suggestion, at least for the foreseeable future. Such a limit would preclude alcohol advertising on major “adult” viewing events, such as the Super Bowl, and the industry cannot reasonably be expected to embrace such a restrictive approach as a preferred practice.

Although most of the attention regarding alcohol advertising has focused on television, print advertising raises analogous concerns.8 A recent study of alcohol advertising in magazines by Garfield et al. (2003) counted advertisements that appeared from 1997-2001 in 35 of 48 major U.S. magazines that tracked their adolescent readership. Variation was assessed in placement frequency for each alcohol product type according to size of adolescent readership and other variables. Garfield et al. (2003) found that the alcohol industry placed 9,148 advertisements, at a cost of $696 million, during this period, with adolescent readership of the magazines ranging from 1.0 to 7.1 million. Most (82 percent) of these advertisements were for liquor, with fewer placements for beer (13 percent) and wine (5 percent). The finding highlighted by the investigators was that, after adjustment for other magazine characteristics, the advertisement rate ratio for beer and liquor was 1.6 times higher for each additional million adolescent readers. However, the committee believes that the significance of this finding must be assessed in light of the accompanying finding that, for liquor advertising, the rate ratio is even higher (2.6) for every additional million young adult readers (defined as 20-24 because advertising industry data do not distinguish between 20- and 21-year-olds) than it is for increased adolescent readership.

This study calls attention to the basic policy problem in relation to alcohol advertising—increased exposure to the lawful young adult audience often involves increased exposure to older teens. In relation to liquor advertising, increasing young adult exposure was accompanied by increased youth


Assuming that alcohol advertising dollars would be redeployed to programs with audience compositions below the threshold, a 15 percent threshold (using a base of 12 and older) would reduce youth gross rating points (the industry standard measure of exposure) by 22 percent.


In the context of billboards and other print media in local retail markets, allowing text-only advertising of price and key product characteristics, which may be less attractive to youth (Kelly et al., 2002), is a suitable alternative to a more sweeping restriction, whether self-imposed or enacted by local governments. The FDA’s unsuccessful regulatory effort to restrict tobacco advertising to a text-only format, as recommended in Growing Up Tobacco Free (Institute of Medicine, 1994a), provides a useful model.

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