Generally, ecological or econometric studies have focused on the relationship between alcohol industry advertising expenditures and aggregated (e.g., per capita) alcohol consumption, sales, or problems. A few studies have investigated the effects of alcohol advertising restrictions or bans.
In a recent study (Saffer, 1997), the relationship between variations in local television, radio, and outdoor alcohol advertising and motor vehicle fatalities was investigated using data for the years 1986 to 1989 in the top 75 media markets in the United States. Alcohol advertising was represented as the sum of expenditures over media types (television, radio, outdoor) weighted for relative media impact based on the estimated number of people exposed to each. Alcohol advertising was found to be significantly related to total and nighttime vehicle fatalities, although the effects appeared to be greater for older than for younger (18- to 20-year-old) drivers. The effect of variations in the cost of advertising on motor vehicle fatalities was also investigated in separate analyses. The cost of advertising was found to be negatively related to motor vehicle fatalities, presumably because higher costs reduce the amount of advertising and thus consumption.
This study has a number of strengths and offers the strongest ecological evidence that alcohol advertising might influence drinking problems. The investigation of local variations in advertising and including a consideration of different media types are important innovations that have not been duplicated in other ecological studies. They are important because the lack of variation in advertising expenditures when aggregated across media at the national level may make it difficult to detect advertising effects (e.g., Saffer, 1995). Nonetheless, making causal inferences based on this study is problematic. Even though important background and demographic variables were controlled, the possibility that the relationship between alcohol advertising and motor vehicle fatalities is spurious and results from some third variable such as differences in regional drinking norms cannot be entirely discounted.
The remaining recent ecological studies of alcohol advertising expenditures have generally produced null findings regarding the effects of advertising on overall consumption and problems. Thus, for example, using annual data from the United States from 1964 to 1990, Nelson and Moran (1995) investigated the effects of real advertising expenditures for beer, wine, and spirits on consumption of these beverages. Although the results varied somewhat among estimation procedures, none of the same beverage advertising coefficients were significant for beer or spirits. The same-beverage coefficients for wine, however, were significant and positive. That is, wine advertising was related to increased wine consumption. All of the advertising effects, however, were quite small. Moreover, wine advertising decreased spirits consumption while spirits advertising decreased wine consumption. Alcohol advertising expenditures were unrelated to total alcohol consumption once income, price, age structure, and advertising for all other goods were controlled. Overall, these results were interpreted as indicating that alcohol advertising does not increase total consumption, but rather reallocates market shares among brands and beverages.
Similar conclusions were reached in a study of the effects of brand-level advertising on spirits consumption in the United States from 1976 to 1989 (Gius, 1996). Specifically, it was found that brand advertising was positively related to own-brand consumption for spirits, whereas rival brand advertising was not significantly related to own-brand consumption. This pattern was interpreted as indicating that alcohol advertising does not change overall consumption of spirits, but rather leads simply to a reallocation of market shares.
The effects of advertising on alcohol consumption and on spirits consumption also have been investigated using national data from the United States for the years 1959 through 1982 (Goel and Morey, 1995). This study found that the effects of both current and lagged (previous year's) advertising expenditures for alcohol were negative. That is, advertising appeared to decrease consumption. These effects were interpreted by the authors as indicating that alcohol advertising leads to a redistribution of market shares without increasing overall demand. One further possibility is that the alcohol manufacturers may increase advertising when demand begins to decrease. That is, advertising may be a function of sales as well as sales being a function of advertising (cf. Saffer, 1995, 1996, 1998).
Beer, wine, and spirits advertising were investigated using quarterly data from 1963 to 1992 for the United Kingdom (Duffy, 1995). This study did not consider cross-beverage advertising effects, but did allow for the possibility that changes in advertising do not immediately affect consumption, but rather may have lagged or delayed effects. Advertising was represented in this study by quarterly per capita expenditures on television, radio, and press. Alcohol consumption was measured by quarterly consumer expenditures on beer, wine, and spirits. The effects for wine and spirits advertising were occasionally positive and significant in some models, but were small and most often nonsignificant. The advertising effects for beer advertising were not significant and positive in any of the models, although a small negative effect was found in one model. When the most stable and best predictive model was considered, one advertising coefficient for spirits was significant and positive, but small. Although this study has many strengths, aggregating advertising across media types and the lack of consistency among the models raise some issues.
Fisher and Cook (1995), using U.S. data for the years 1970 to 1990, investigated changes in per capita consumption as a function of changes in advertising as well as cross-sectional associations. Considering the cross-sectional analyses first, they found that expenditures on magazine advertising were associated with increased spirits consumption. This finding is consistent with the fact that spirits advertising in the U.S. is primarily through print media (Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2002; Snyder et al., 2000). They also found that total wine and spirits advertising (across all media) increased wine, spirits, beer, and total consumption. Interestingly, total beer advertising decreased spirits consumption, as would be expected if market shares were being shifted. Overall, the authors concluded that these findings provided some support for the effects of advertising on consumption, and in some cases the observed advertising effects were substantial. When models of change, rather than static models, were considered, no evidence that changes in advertising expenditures were related to changes in consumption was found. Spirits advertising, however, was found to decrease wine market share. The findings of this study provide little or no evidence that changes in alcohol advertising increase overall alcohol consumption, although it may realign market shares.
Other recent ecological studies reach similar conclusions. Thus Coulson, Moran, and Nelson (2001) report a series of analyses using quarterly advertising expenditures, taking into account the relative audience reach of different media types. Some significant effects of alcohol advertising were found, although they were quite small. Thus, spirits advertising had a positive effect on spirits consumption one quarter (3 months) later, and a contemporaneous positive effect on wine consumption. Wine advertising, however, had a negative effect on spirits consumption after one quarter and a positive contemporaneous effect on wine consumption. It was concluded that the effects of alcohol advertising on overall consumption were negligible.
Similar results have been reported for advertising expenditures on per capita alcohol consumption in Ontario, Canada (Larivière, Larue, and Chalfant, 2000). Although the results were unstable and varied considerably depending on model specification, they suggested that spirits consumption was positively related to advertising expenditures, whereas beer and wine consumption were negatively related to advertising expenditures. Larivière et al. concluded that advertising effects were subtle, may vary by beverage, and probably affect brand or product allocation, rather than overall consumption. On the basis of similar data for the United Kingdom and United States, respectively, Duffy (2001) and Nelson (1999) conclude that a 100 percent increase in alcohol advertising would result in a 1 percent increase in total consumption.
In addition to considering alcohol advertising expenditures, some ecological studies have attempted to ascertain if restrictions on alcohol advertising have a discernible effect on drinking and drinking problems. Early studies in this area concluded that advertising restrictions have little, if any, overall effect on increasing consumption. Thus, for example, a study of state-level alcohol control laws in the United States (Ornstein and Hanssens, 1985) indicated that allowing outdoor (billboard) advertising was actually related to decreased spirits consumption and had no effect on beer consumption. However, allowing price advertising, especially on billboards, significantly increased both spirits and beer consumption. This effect was interpreted as indicating that price advertising leads to greater competition, lower prices, and therefore greater consumption. The analyses also suggested that allowing retailers and distributors to give away alcohol-related novelties (a form of promotion) increased consumption of both spirits and beer. Even so, the effects of price advertising and novelties were relatively small compared with those of other regulatory policies (e.g., drinking age) and economic factors (e.g., price). In another study (Makowsky and Whitehead, 1991), the effects of removing a total ban on alcohol advertising in Saskatchewan, Canada, were investigated for beer, spirits, wine, and total alcohol sales. The analyses indicated that lifting the ban increased beer sales, decreased spirits sales, and had no effect on wine or total sales. That is, lifting the ban may have resulted in a substitution effect of beer for spirits, but did not appear to increase overall consumption.
Some support for the effectiveness of restrictions on broadcast alcohol advertising in reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol problems (i.e., liver cirrhosis mortality, motor vehicle fatalities) is provided by a study of 17 European and North American countries (Saffer, 1991Saffer, 1993a). In a series of analyses controlling for income, price, tourism, kilometers of roadway, and percentage of alcohol consumed in the form of beer and wine, it was found that restrictions on alcohol advertising were related to lower rates of consumption and reduced motor vehicle fatalities. Specifically, countries with partial restrictions had alcohol consumption rates that were about 16 percent lower than countries with no restrictions, and countries with complete restrictions had consumption rates that were 11 percent lower than countries with partial restrictions. The corresponding reduced rates for motor vehicle fatalities were 10 percent and 23 percent, respectively. No significant effects were observed for cirrhosis mortality rates.
This study, however, has been seriously criticized. A reanalysis of the data (Young, 1993) suggested there was evidence of model misspecification and reverse causation, with those countries experiencing low rates of alcohol problems being more likely to adopt alcohol advertising bans than countries with high rates of alcohol problems. That is, it appears that both low problem rates and advertising restrictions may be a result of preexisting conservative drinking styles. Moreover, the reanalysis also suggested that partial alcohol advertising bans might actually increase alcohol consumption through substitution. For example, bans on spirits advertising were associated with increases in beer consumption. Other studies (Nelson and Young, 2001; Nelson, 2001) using more recent data and a somewhat longer time series have investigated the effects of bans on broadcast alcohol advertising in the same 17 countries on per capita alcohol consumption, cirrhosis deaths, and traffic fatalities. These studies concluded that a total ban on broadcast alcohol advertising had no measurable effects on alcohol consumption, cirrhosis deaths, or traffic fatalities, although the number of countries with such bans was quite small (N = 4). Bans on broadcast spirits advertising were related to increases in consumption and road fatalities and were not significantly related to cirrhosis rates. The authors also note that such bans may be relatively ineffective because they are often circumvented through substitution of nonbanned media and the use of new technologies and marketing strategies. Contamination from neighboring areas where no bans are in effect is also problematic.
In contrast, a more recent analysis of longer time series of data (1970-1995) from 20 countries indicated that both partial bans and complete bans on alcohol advertising may reduce consumption (Saffer and Dave, 2002). It was estimated that each added restriction on alcohol advertising (e.g., disallowing spirits advertising on television) reduced consumption by 5 to 8 percent. These effects were found even after controls for price, income, alcohol culture (percentage of alcohol consumed as beer and wine), cigarette advertising bans, and government activism in the economy. Importantly, this study addressed criticisms raised concerning previous studies (e.g., Young, 1993). In particular, it took into account reciprocal effects between consumption and alcohol advertising bans. In this regard, it was found that not only did advertising bans decrease consumption, but consumption also affected advertising bans. Specifically, countries with higher alcohol consumption were more likely to institute total bans on alcohol advertising compared with lower consumption countries.
In general, the findings from the ecological studies provide little consistent support for a relationship between aggregate alcohol advertising expenditures or advertising restrictions and aggregate alcohol sales, consumption, or problems. They do provide stronger evidence that alcohol advertising may lead to changes in brand or beverage preferences without increasing total consumption. The ecological research on alcohol advertising, however, has been criticized on a number of grounds (cf. Calfee and Scheraga, 1994; Fisher, 1993; Saffer, 1993bSaffer, 1995, 2002). Aggregation of advertising data across media types is one recurrent problem; it is interesting to note that one study that took differential media impact into account found significant advertising effects (Saffer, 1997). It is worth noting, however, that other studies investigating the independent contributions of separate media types have found no such effects (e.g., Nelson, 1999). In a related aggregation issue, it has been argued (Saffer, 1993b) that ecological studies have not considered the possible cumulative effects of advertising over many years. As a result, they may underestimate advertising effects. Studies investigating lagged effects of advertising over relatively lengthy time series, however, have found no advertising effects (e.g., Fisher and Cook, 1995; Coulson et al., 2001), although time series analysis, even with lags, may not be an appropriate method for detecting cumulative effects. Although the effects of advertising on brand or product preferences may decay rapidly, this may not be the case for any effects of advertising on overall drinking predispositions. Conversely, because advertising is pulsed or concentrated in relatively short intervals, using data that are aggregated at the yearly level may mask or hide short-term advertising effects (Saffer, 1993b, Saffer and Dave, 2002). Again, however, ecological studies considering quarterly data have not found advertising effects (e.g., Nelson, 1999; Coulson et al., 2001). Aggregating advertising expenditures and sales data over large geographical areas (e.g., nationally) may mask potential advertising effects because of the relative lack of variability in such data. In this regard, it is important to note that the one study that considered variations in alcohol advertising at the regional level (Saffer, 1997) found significant effects on vehicle fatalities. In a related issue with studies using aggregated data, it has been suggested that studying alcohol advertising cross-nationally is potentially important because variations in such advertising are usually at the margin, and quite small in relation to the total amount of alcohol advertising in the environment within any one country. As a result, normally occurring changes in levels of alcohol advertising can be expected to have only minimal effects, if any, in single-country studies (Saffer, 1995, 1996, 1998).
An additional cautionary note regarding ecological analyses of alcohol advertising is that they may misspecify the underlying models by ignoring mediated effects. For example, one effect of advertising may be to increase competition among brands, thereby reducing price and, as a result, increasing consumption (Nelson, 2001; Nelson and Young, 2001; Tremblay and Okuyama, 2001). If such a model holds, then one would not expect a significant direct effect from advertising to consumption if price is also included in a simple series analysis. This would be the case even if advertising were, in fact, an important indirect determinant of alcohol consumption and problems through its effects on price. Although some researchers have dismissed the significance of such indirect effects (Nelson, 2001), they may be practically important. In the present example, if advertising does indeed lead to reductions in prices, then restricting advertising might increase price and reduce consumption. Thus, for example, a case study (Tremblay and Okuyama, 2001) tentatively suggests that lifting the ban on broadcast spirits advertising may have led to price reductions and consequently to increased consumption of spirits. Unfortunately, appropriate analytic procedures that allow for assessing indirect effects, as well as direct effects, for the most part have been lacking in the ecological literature on alcohol advertising.
Another limitation of the existing ecological studies is that they have not considered special populations that may be more susceptible to or exposed to advertising. In particular, it has been argued that young people, or certain groups of young people, may be especially influenced by alcohol advertisements (e.g., Atkin, 1993) and that minority populations have been specially targeted by alcohol advertising (e.g., Scott et al., 1992; Abramson, 1992). It is possible that advertising may be more important at some stages of the drinking process (e.g., initiation) than others (continuation of established drinking patterns). Although aggregate consumption rates for youth are highly correlated with those for adults (Nelson, 2001), they are not identical. The effects of alcohol advertising on aggregated youth drinking thus remains an empirical question.
Alcoholism Can Affect A Person Financially, Physically, And Psychologically
Sometimes it is easily forgotten that Alcohol is an addictive substance. The odd glass of wine with a meal, a beer after work is socially acceptable. There are government guidelines that indicate the maximum alcoholic units per week that are safe to consume .However problems occur when drinking to excess or drinking as a solitary activity and eventually the person finds that they cannot get to sleep at night without a drink or even a bottle of wine or vodka or they cannot face the day without having a few glasses of wine, spirits or beer before they leave the house. Alcohol is very addictive and some people can monitor their consumptions but others find it very difficult, which can result in the need for alcohol to take over their lives.
If alcohol becomes a major part of someone’s life there are obviously going to be some effects on that person’s life in particular the financial cost, a cost to physical health and the psychological impact including relationships
The implication on finances can be two fold. Firstly, is the actual cost of the alcohol can be crippling. The odd glass of bottle of wine can be realistically absorbed into an average budget, but if the amount is for example 2-3 bottles a day (and this can be wine, beer or spirits) this can soon eat into earnings.
Apart from the obvious cost, there is the physical cost. Physically, if someone is drinking to excess on a regular basis they get a hangover on a regular basis, this can a lack of pride in appearance, a lack of concentration, chronic dehydration; liver disease and various other illnesses. The hangovers, appearance and lack of concentration can seriously affect the ability to work which will ultimately result in lack of money Sometimes people drink more alcohol more than they should because they feel that it helps their mood, but in reality it can mean that you need to drink more and more each time to get a good mood feeling, In fact the coupled with the financial problems, alcohol can make you feel ore anxious and depressed, which can lead to a downward spiral that affects relationships by putting enormous stress on those closest.
It is important to realize that in reality there is what is known as an addictive personality and sometimes the addict through no fault of their own has little control over their addiction. There is help through AA or through their Doctor, but without the appropriate support a person with an addictive behavior may just replace on addictive behavior with another.