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Alcohol Advertising Compliance on Cable Television


  • Reduce underage drinking in the United States.
  • Monitor youth exposure to alcohol advertising on cable television.
  • Monitoring reports will be published in June 2020.
The Challenge

Each year, excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 3,504 deaths among people in the U.S. younger than 21. Youth exposure to alcohol advertising is associated with underage drinking, including earlier drinking initiation, increased drinking frequency, binge drinking, and drinking-related harm. Between 2005 and 2012, youth were exposed to 15.1 billion noncompliant advertising impressions, mostly on cable television.

The Approach

Under contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Abt and Boston University School of Public Health produce semi-annual monitoring reports on the alcoholic beverage brands, cable television programs, and television networks and dayparts that generate the most youth exposure to noncompliant alcohol advertisements. A noncompliant advertising impression occurs when a youth under age 21 sees an alcohol advertisement placed on a television program in which youth exceed 28.4% of viewers. This is a voluntary, industry-established guideline.

The Results

The first monitoring report (Q1-Q2, 2019) was published in June 2020. The second monitoring report (Q3-Q4, 2019) was published in September 2020. Youth are exposed to alcohol ads on cable television billions of times a year, though the report finds reductions over time. Analyses found the majority of exposures exceeding voluntary alcohol industry guidelines are from a small number of brands, programs, and network dayparts.