'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
26 April 2017 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

PURPOSE: The aims of the study were to: a) examine the prevalence of energy drink (ED) and alcohol mixed with energy drink (AmED) consumption; b) investigate the relationships between ED and AmED with alcohol, binge drinking and drugs accounting for at risk behaviors among a representative sample of Italian adolescents.

METHODS: A representative sample of 30,588 Italian high school students, aged 15-19years, was studied. Binary and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to determine the independent association of the potential predictors' characteristics with the ED and AmED drinking during the last year.

RESULTS: Respectively 41.4% and 23.2% of respondents reported drinking EDs and AmEDs in the last year. Multivariate analysis revealed that consumption of EDs and AmEDs during the last year were significantly associated with daily smoking, binge drinking, use of cannabis and other psychotropic drugs. Among life habits and risky behaviors the following were positively associated: going out with friends for fun, participating in sports, experiencing physical fights/accidents or injury, engaging in sexual intercourse without protection and being involved in accidents while driving.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the popularity of ED and AmED consumption among the Italian school population aged 15-19 years old: 4 out of 10 students consumed EDs in the last year and 2 out of 10 AmED. Multivariate analysis highlighted the association with illicit drug consumption and harming behaviors, confirming that consumption of EDs and AmEDs is a compelling issue especially during adolescence, as it can effect health as well as risk taking behaviors.

22 March 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Drinking in youth is linked to other risky behaviours, educational failure and premature death. Prior research has examined drinking in mid and late teenagers, but little is known about the factors that influence drinking at the beginning of adolescence. Objectives were: 1. to assess associations of parental and friends' drinking with reported drinking among 11 year olds; 2. to investigate the roles of perceptions of harm, expectancies towards alcohol, parental supervision and family relationships on reported drinking among 11 year olds.

METHODS: Analysis of data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study on 10498 11-year-olds. The outcome measure was having drank an alcoholic drink, self-reported by cohort members.

RESULTS: 13.6 % of 11 year olds reported having drank. Estimates reported are odds ratios and 95 % confidence intervals. Cohort members whose mothers drank were more likely to drink (light/moderate = 1.6, 1.3 to 2.0, heavy/binge = 1.8, 1.4 to 2.3). Cohort members whose fathers drank were also more likely to drink but these estimates lost statistical significance when covariates were adjusted for (light/moderate = 1.3, 0.9 to 1.9, heavy/binge = 1.3, 0.9 to 1.9). Having friends who drank was strongly associated with cohort member drinking (4.8, 3.9 to 5.9). Associated with reduced odds of cohort member drinking were: heightened perception of harm from 1-2 drinks daily (some = 0.9, 0.7 to 1.1, great = 0.6, 0.5 to 0.7); and negative expectancies towards alcohol (0.5, 0.4 to 0.7). Associated with increased odds of cohort member drinking were: positive expectancies towards alcohol (1.9, 1.4 to 2.5); not being supervised on weekends and weekdays (often = 1.2, 1.0 to 1.4); frequent battles of will (1.3, 1.1 to 1.5); and not being happy with family (1.2, 1.0 to 1.5).

CONCLUSIONS: Examining drinking at this point in the lifecourse has potentially important public health implications as around one in seven 11 year olds have drank, although the vast majority are yet to explore alcohol. Findings support interventions working at multiple levels that incorporate family and peer factors to help shape choices around risky behaviours including drinking.

22 March 2016 In Drinking & Eating Patterns

BACKGROUND: Epidemiological research on alcohol-related harm has long given priority to studies on harm to the drinker. A limitation with this perspective is that it neglects the harm drinking causes to people around the drinker, and thus, it fails to give a full picture of alcohol-related harm in society.

AIM: The aim was to compare the prevalence and correlates of experiencing harm from the heavy drinking by family and friends across the Nordic countries and Scotland and to discuss whether potential differences match levels of drinking, prevalence of binge drinking, and alcohol-related mortality.

DATA AND METHOD: Data from recent national general population surveys with similar questions on experiences of harms from the drinking of family and friends were collected from Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Scotland.

RESULTS: National estimates of the overall population prevalence of harm from the drinking of family and friends ranged from 14% to 28% across these countries, with the highest prevalence in Finland, Iceland, and Norway and lower estimates for Denmark, Sweden, and Scotland. Across all countries, the prevalence of harm from heavy drinking by family and friends was significantly higher among women and young respondents.

CONCLUSION: This study revealed large differences in the prevalence of harm across the study countries, as well as by gender and age, but the differences do not match the variation in population drinking and other indicators of harm. The implications of the findings for future research are discussed.

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