'Responsible drinking' campaigns emerged in the early 1970s as a means of addressing hazardous drinking and its related consequences. While these were initially the product of public health agencies and health-related NGOs, they are increasingly being developed and disseminated by the alcohol industry. There is considerable debate as to whether industry-generated campaigns are designed to reduce hazardous drinking and related problems (as argued by their developers) or are designed to avoid government regulation or even to increase sales. The aim of the present study was to explore the way that recent industry-developed responsible drinking campaigns are perceived and interpreted by the general public. That is, do they promote low-risk drinking, promote risky drinking, or just muddy the waters. Two sub-studies were conducted. The first, a mall intercept study with 180 adults in two Australian shopping districts, explored participants' understanding of slogans/taglines. The second, an online survey with 480 Australian adults, explored understandings and interpretations of television/online commercials. The results of the two studies revealed diversity in participants' interpretation of the 'responsible drinking' advertisements. Terminology utilised in industry-developed advertisements was found to be ambiguous; for example, what age group was being referred to in the tagline 'Kids and alcohol don't mix', and whether 'Drink Properly' meant not drinking to excess or drinking in a way that made you look more sophisticated. In Study Two, the government-developed campaign ('Know when to say when') was clearly interpreted as warning against risky consumption of alcohol; whereas the industry-developed campaigns ('How to drink properly', 'Kids absorb your drinking', 'Friends are waiting') were interpreted to have a range of different meanings, including some seemingly unrelated to alcohol. These findings are consistent with the literature evaluating anti-smoking campaigns developed by the tobacco industry, and previous research showing that industry communications serve to soften public opinion and create the impression of a 'socially responsible' industry but are likely to be less effective than initiatives focused on the availability and promotion of alcohol
21 September 2016 In Social and Cultural Aspects

AIMS: To conduct a systematic review of studies exploring the relationship between exposure to Internet-based alcohol-related content and alcohol use among young people.

METHODS: Searches of electronic databases and reference lists of relevant articles were conducted to retrieve studies of relevance up until December 2015. Full texts of the studies that met the inclusion criteria were read, appraised for quality using the Kmet forms and guidelines, and included in this review.

RESULTS: Fifteen relevant studies were identified. The included studies were a mix of cross-sectional, longitudinal, experimental and qualitative studies conducted in the USA, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The age range of the participants involved in these studies was 12-25 years. Included studies employed a variety of study designs and a range of different exposure variables and outcome measures. Studies demonstrated significant associations between exposure to Internet-based alcohol-related content and intentions to drink and positive attitudes towards alcohol drinking among young people.

CONCLUSION: Exposure to alcohol-related content on the Internet might predispose young people to patterns of alcohol use by promoting alcohol as a natural and vital part of life. However, the research exploring the influence of this novel form of advertising on young people's alcohol use is emergent, and comprised primarily of cross-sectional studies. To evaluate the direction of the association between exposure to online alcohol-related content and alcohol use, we call for further research based on longitudinal designs.

SHORT SUMMARY: From 15 relevant studies identified, this review reports significant associations between exposure to Internet-based alcohol-related content and intentions to drink and positive attitudes towards alcohol drinking among young people, with different influences found at different stages of alcohol use.

21 April 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: One of the challenges of international alcohol research and policy is the variability in and lack of knowledge of how governments in different nations define a standard drink and low-risk drinking. This study gathered such information from governmental agencies in 37 countries.

METHODS: A pool of 75 countries that might have definitions was created using World Health Organization (WHO) information and the authors' own judgement. Structured internet searches of relevant terms for each country were supplemented by efforts to contact government agencies directly and to consult with alcohol experts in the country.

RESULTS: Most of the 75 national governments examined were not identified as having adopted a standard drink definition. Among the 37 that were so identified, the modal standard drink size was 10 g pure ethanol, but variation was wide (8-20 g). Significant variability was also evident for low-risk drinking guidelines, ranging from 10-42 g per day for women and 10-56 g per day for men to 98-140 g per week for women and 150-280 g per week for men.

CONCLUSIONS: Researchers working and communicating across national boundaries should be sensitive to the substantial variability in 'standard' drink definitions and low-risk drinking guidelines. The potential impact of guidelines, both in general and in specific national cases, remains an important question for public health research.

27 January 2016 In Social and Cultural Aspects

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Internet alcohol marketing is not well studied despite its prevalence and potential accessibility and attractiveness to youth. The objective was to examine longitudinal associations between self-reported engagement with Internet alcohol marketing and alcohol use transitions in youth.

METHODS: A US sample of 2012 youths aged 15 to 20 was surveyed in 2011. An Internet alcohol marketing receptivity score was developed, based on number of positive responses to seeing alcohol advertising on the Internet, visiting alcohol brand Web sites, being an online alcohol brand fan, and cued recall of alcohol brand home page images. We assessed the association between baseline marketing receptivity and both ever drinking and binge drinking (>/=6 drinks per occasion) at 1-year follow-up with multiple logistic regression, controlling for baseline drinking status, Internet use, sociodemographics, personality characteristics, and peer or parent drinking.

RESULTS: At baseline, ever-drinking and binge-drinking prevalence was 55% and 27%, respectively. Many (59%) reported seeing Internet alcohol advertising, but few reported going to an alcohol Web site (6%) or being an online fan (3%). Higher Internet use, sensation seeking, having family or peers who drank, and past alcohol use were associated with Internet alcohol marketing receptivity, and a score of 1 or 2 was independently associated with greater adjusted odds of initiating binge drinking (odds ratio 1.77; 95% confidence interval, 1.13-2.78 and odds ratio 2.15; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-4.37 respectively) but not with initiation of ever drinking.

CONCLUSIONS: Although high levels of engagement with Internet alcohol marketing were uncommon, most underage youths reported seeing it, and we found a prospective association between receptivity to this type of alcohol marketing and future problem drinking, making additional research and ongoing surveillance important.

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