BACKGROUND: Alcohol education aims to increase knowledge on the harm related to alcohol, and to change attitudes and drinking behaviour. However, little (lasting) evidence has been found for alcohol education, in changing alcohol-related attitudes and behaviour. Social marketing uses marketing techniques to achieve a social or healthy goal, and can be used in alcohol education. Social marketing consists of eight principles: customer orientation, insight, segmentation, behavioural goals, exchange, competition, methods mix, and is theory based. This review investigates the application of social marketing in alcohol prevention interventions, and whether application of social marketing influences alcohol-related attitudes or behaviour.

METHOD: A literature search was conducted in PubMed, PsychInfo, Cochrane and Scopus. Inclusion criteria were that original papers had to describe the effects of an alcohol prevention intervention developed according to one or more principles of social marketing. No limits were set on the age of the participants or on the kind of alcohol prevention intervention. The abstracts of the 274 retrieved studies were reviewed and the full texts of potentially relevant studies were screened.

RESULTS: Six studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in this review. These six studies showed associations for the application of social marketing techniques on alcohol-related attitudes or behaviour; one study relates to participation in a drinking event, four to alcohol drinking behaviour, two to driving a car while under the influence of alcohol, two to recognition of campaign messages or campaign logo, and one to awareness of the campaign. However, no associations were also found. In addition, the studies had several limitations related to a control group, response rate and study methodology.

CONCLUSION: Based on this review, the effect of applying the principles of social marketing in alcohol prevention in changing alcohol-related attitudes or behaviour could not be assessed. More research, with a good quality methodology, like using a randomized control trial and measuring short, medium, and long-term effects, is required on this topic. Policy implications are discussed.

AIM - This paper assesses alcohol policies and interventions in Finland and the Canadian province of Ontario, using the policy options and interventions recommended in WHO's Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol (2010).

DATA & METHODS - The information and data are based on archival sources, surveys, legislative and government documents, and published papers. The paper assesses both jurisdictions on 10 areas in the WHO document and their sub-topics: 1. leadership, 2. health services response, 3. community action, 4. drinking and driving policies and countermeasures, 5. availability of alcohol, 6. marketing of alcoholic beverages, 7. pricing policies, 8. reducing the negative consequences of drinking and alcohol intoxication, 9. reducing the public health impact of illicit alcohol and informally produced alcohol, and 10. monitoring and surveillance.

RESULTS - Ontario had several recent noteworthy developments in line with WHO recommendations: health services response, controls of drinking and driving, pricing policies, reducing the negative consequences of drinking and intoxication, and monitoring and surveillance. Finland has emphasised pricing policies in recent years, and there have also been significant developments in community action, controls of drinking and driving, alcohol advertising, and monitoring and surveillance.

CONCLUSIONS - Challenges and opportunities for strengthening the policy responses are noted, as well as topics for future research.

Youth exposure to alcohol marketing has been linked to increased alcohol consumption and problems. On relatively new and highly interactive social networking sites (SNS) that are popular with youth, tools for measuring youth exposure to alcohol marketing in traditional media are inadequate. We critically review the existing policies of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube designed to keep branded alcohol content away from underage youth. Looking at brand and user activity on Facebook for the 15 alcohol brands most popular among US youth, we found activity has grown dramatically in the past 3 years, and underage users may be accounting for some of this activity. Surveys of youth and adult participation in alcohol marketing on SNS will be needed to inform debate over these marketing practices.

AIMS: In 2011, online marketing became the largest marketing channel in the UK, overtaking television for the first time. This study aimed to describe the exposure of children and young adults to alcohol marketing on social media websites in the UK.

METHODS: We used commercially available data on the three most used social media websites among young people in the UK, from December 2010 to May 2011. We analysed by age (6-14 years; 15-24 years) and gender the reach (proportion of internet users who used the site in each month) and impressions (number of individual pages viewed on the site in each month) for Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. We further analysed case studies of five alcohol brands to assess the marketer-generated brand content available on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in February and March 2012.

RESULTS: Facebook was the social media site with the highest reach, with an average monthly reach of 89% of males and 91% of females aged 15-24. YouTube had a similar average monthly reach while Twitter had a considerably lower usage in the age groups studied. All five of the alcohol brands studied maintained a Facebook page, Twitter page and YouTube channel, with varying levels of user engagement. Facebook pages could not be accessed by an under-18 user, but in most cases YouTube content and Twitter content could be accessed by those of all ages.

CONCLUSION: The rise in online marketing of alcohol and the high use of social media websites by young people suggests that this is an area requiring further monitoring and regulation.

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