FRIDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Young Americans' exposure to alcohol ads in magazines declined 48 percent between 2001 and 2008, according to a new study.

The analysis of magazine ads found that 325 alcohol brands advertised in magazines in 2008, but just 16 brands accounted for half the ads placed in publications more likely to be seen by youths than adults.

The findings suggest that alcohol makers have largely met the industry's voluntary standard (adopted in 2003) of not placing ads in magazines with 30 percent or more youth readership, said the researchers at the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

However, magazines are still a major source of exposure to these ads. In 2008, they noted, 78 percent of youth exposure to alcohol ads in magazines occurred in publications more likely to be read by people ages 12 to 20 than by those ages 21 and older.

"It continues to make no sense to advertise more heavily to those who cannot purchase alcohol than to those who can," CAMY Director David H. Jernigan said in a Hopkins news release. "Yet a relatively small number of brands are still doing this, despite industry efforts to tighten the standard in order to reduce youth exposure."

Among the other findings:

  • From 2001 to 2008, ads placed in magazines by distilled spirits companies (the largest alcohol advertisers in magazines) fell by 34 percent while ads placed by brewers increased by 158 percent.
  • Youth exposure to distilled spirits ads in magazines fell by 62 percent but exposure to beer ads in magazines rose by 57 percent.
  • By 2008, there were virtually no alcohol ads placed in magazines with more than 30 percent of readers younger than 21.

"Beer advertisers appear to be filling the gap left by distillers in youth-oriented magazines. If the entire industry is serious about underage drinking, it should adopt stricter standards to protect against youth exposure to its advertising," Jernigan said in the release.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about underage drinking.