Alcohol advertising has long been controversial. First Amendment rights conflict with societal concerns about promoting alcohol use to adolescents. Over the years the controversy has resulted in temporary bans on television advertising and changes in how companies present their alcohol. Many advertisements now include the message “drink responsibly”. Research studies have determined that adolescents on average are exposed to at least 245 television ads for alcoholic beverages every year. These ads may or may not promote drinking.
The impact of alcohol advertising on adolescents has been studied by many different research groups and medical organizations. According to a RAND Corporation study, when children are exposed to such advertisements during adolescence, it influences both beer drinking and their intentions to drink a year later. Researchers looked at sixth and seventh grade children who had been exposed to alcohol advertising at high levels, on television, in magazines, on in-store displays and on promotional items. These adolescents were found to be 50% more likely to drink and 36% more likely to intend to drink than those who had been exposed to very little advertising.