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Last Updated: Monday, 2 January 2006, 23:45 GMT
Adverts 'increase youth drinking'
Teenagers drinking
UK teenagers have one of the highest rates of drinking in Europe
Young people who are exposed to advertisements for alcohol are likely to drink more, a US study suggests.

University of Connecticut researchers interviewed 1,872 people aged between 15 and 26 over a two-year period.

The journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine reports they found that for each extra advert experienced a month, 1% more drinks were consumed.

UK alcohol industry representatives said there was a strict system in place controlling advertising.

The UK has one of the highest youth drinking rates in Europe, with nearly 20% (one in five) of those aged between 11 and 15 drinking at least once a week - up from 13% in 1990.

The alcohol industry needs to look more broadly at how it prevents the inappropriate used of alcohol
Don Shenker
Alcohol Concern

The US report warned young people were beginning to drink at an earlier age than ever before and their actions could affect performance at school, as well as causing accidents.

It said several studies had found an association between drinking and advertising but none had been able to establish whether there was a causal link.

The researchers also analysed youth drinking in relation to the money spent on advertising, based on industry figures, and found investment in marketing also increased consumption.

Lead researcher Leslie Snyder said the findings suggested a direct link between advertising and youth drinking.

And Dr Snyder added: "The results contradict claims that advertising is unrelated to youth drinking amounts, that advertising at best causes brand switching, only affects those older than the legal drinking age or is effectively countered by current educational efforts.

"Alcohol advertising was a contributing factor to youth drinking quantities over time."

Don Shenker, director of policy at Alcohol Concern, said the industry had a duty to advertise responsibly.

"The alcohol industry needs to look more broadly at how it prevents the inappropriate used of alcohol.

"A good step would be not to advertise before the 9pm watershed."

But David Poley, of industry body the Portman Group, said: "This is US research, and we have a stricter system of advertising regulation in the UK which bans advertising of alcohol which could appeal to under18s.

"And the regulations have been tightened up still further in the last year, particularly in regard to TV advertising."


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