Policy Factsheet

Limiting Alcohol Advertising

Reasons for Policy

  • In 2009, 67% of high school students who drank reported binge drinking in the last 30 days. 1
  • Heavy alcohol consumption in adolescence is linked to heavier consumption, alcohol dependence, and alcohol-related problems in early adulthood.2

Community Groups

  • Local Consumer Protection Agencies
  • Local District Attorney
  • Local Government

Policy Components

  • Restricting, or completely banning, alcohol advertising or marketing that may be seen by large populations of underage youth

Desired Outcomes

  • Delay onset of drinking
  • Reduced alcohol use among youth
  • Fewer alcohol-related problems (e.g. liver cirrhosis, traffic crashes and fatalities)

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 1: Evidence-Based Policies Meeting Criteria for Effectiveness.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

  • Exposure to alcohol advertising is significantly associated with earlier initiation of alcohol use and increased levels of alcohol consumption among drinking youth.3, 4
  • A number of high-quality, longitudinal studies have shown a dose-response relationship between exposure to alcohol advertising and both alcohol use initiation and consumption. 3, 4
  • The data are insufficient to draw clear conclusions about the net effects of bans and/or restrictions of alcohol advertising on drinking behavior and related problems among youth. More research is needed.5

Community Examples

Links to Policy Examples

Be sure to check with your state, county, and municipal governments regarding potential existing laws that may impede any new policy development.


  1. Campbell CA, et al. (2009). The effectiveness of limiting alcohol outlet density as a means of reducing excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 37(6). 556-569.  

  2. Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.  

  3. Anderson P, de Bruijn A, Angus K, Gordon R, & Hastings G (2009). Impact of alcohol advertising and media exposure on adolescent alcohol use: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. Alcohol & Alcoholism, 44(3), 229-243.  

  4. Smith LA, & Foxcroft DR (2009). The effect of alcohol advertising, marketing, and portrayal on drinking behaviour in young people: Systematic review of prospective cohort studies. BMC Public Health, 9.  

  5. Grube J (2005). Preventing alcohol-related problems: Public policy strategies. Transportation Research Cicular, E-C072, 97-126.