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Alcohol advertising restrictions

Evidence Rating

Some Evidence

Health Factors

Efforts to restrict alcohol advertisements include local ordinances, state laws, or self-regulation by the alcohol industry. Restrictions can be applied to traditional media outlets, such as television, radio and billboards or to non-traditional forms of advertising including internet marketing and concert and sports event sponsorship. Restrictions can target ad placement, ad content (i.e., images and messages), or both (CAMY-State laws 2012). 

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced underage drinking

  • Reduced excessive drinking

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Improved health outcomes

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that restricting the content and placement of alcohol advertisements reduces underage and excessive drinking (, ). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Exposure to alcohol advertising has been shown to increase drinking among non-drinking adolescents and consumption among adolescents who already drink alcohol (, ). Model-based evidence suggests that restricting alcohol advertising is associated with reductions in disability and premature deaths (IAS-Anderson 2006).

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Virginia’s youth presence law prohibits all types of alcohol advertising within 500 feet of schools, public playgrounds, and churches. Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Washington also implement some variation of this youth presence law to restrict alcohol advertising near youth-oriented locations (CAMY-State laws 2012).

Oakland, California also has an ordinance restricting alcohol advertisements. Adopted in 1998, the ordinance prohibits alcohol ads on billboards in residential areas and near schools. It also bans alcohol advertising within three blocks of recreation centers, churches, and licensed day care facilities (UMN-AEP). 

Implementation Resources

UMN-AEP - University of Minnesota Alcohol Epidemiology Program (UMN-AEP). Alcohol control policy descriptions.

PIRE-Alcohol advertising 2004 - Center for the Study of Law and Enforcement Policy (CSLEP), Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE). Model statutory language restricting alcohol advertising and alcohol sponsorship in state publications and on property owned, leased, or operated by the state. Baltimore: Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY); 2004.

CAMY-State laws 2012 - Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY). State laws to reduce the impact of alcohol marketing on youth: Current status and model policies. Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 2012.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

IAS-Anderson 2006 - Anderson P, Baumberg B. Alcohol in Europe: A public health perspective. London, UK: Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS); 2006.

Weitzman 2004* - Weitzman ER, Nelson TF, Lee H, Wechsler H. Reducing drinking and related harms in college: Evaluation of the 'A Matter of Degree' program. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2004;27(3):187-96.

Saffer 1991* - Saffer H. Alcohol advertising bans and alcohol abuse: An international perspective. Journal of Health Economics. 1991;10(1):65-79.

Anderson 2009* - Anderson P, de Bruijn A, Angus K, Gordon R, Hastings G. Impact of alcohol advertising and media exposure on adolescent alcohol use: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2009:44(3):229-43.

Smith 2009* - Smith LA, Foxcroft DR. The effect of alcohol advertising, marketing and portrayal on drinking behaviour in young people: Systematic review of prospective cohort studies. BMC Public Health. 2009;9:51.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

UMN-AEP - University of Minnesota Alcohol Epidemiology Program (UMN-AEP). Alcohol control policy descriptions.

CAMY-State laws 2012 - Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY). State laws to reduce the impact of alcohol marketing on youth: Current status and model policies. Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; 2012.

Date Last Updated

Aug 13, 2014