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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia: High-Density of Alcohol Outlets and Advertising Affect Youth Drinking

Alcohol use among Tanzanian youth is rising and the high density of alcohol selling outlets and advertisements coupled with low enforcement of minimum drinking age laws are likely facilitating this uptick, according to a study by Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and Muhimbili University. The volume of alcohol advertising that youth encounter in Tanzania is increasing as competition among alcohol producers intensifies. Results are published in the journal Health and Place.

“The high density of alcohol-selling venues where we investigated makes alcohol readily available to youth,” said Dr. Marni Sommer, associate professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia Mailman School, and senior author.

The two-year study involved weeks of participatory activities with adolescents, in-depth interviews with adolescents and adults, and the mapping of alcohol outlets and advertising which revealed a high density of alcohol-selling outlets. Density was particularly high around schools and youth centers in the lower income communities.

“Many adolescents described how constantly seeing alcohol as they go about their daily activities serves as a form of temptation,” said Ms. Mobolaji Ibitoye, a doctoral candidate in sociomedical sciences and first author.

Specifically, the youth recommended that alcohol not be sold near schools and in residential areas; others recommended better enforcement of minimum drinking age laws, and many endorsed the use of economic policies like taxation to reduce adolescents’ access to alcohol.

Strong national efforts that regulate all forms of alcohol advertising in Tanzania will counter aggressive marketing campaigns that target adolescents and normalize drinking, noted the researchers.

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