Teens Who Own Alcohol-Branded Merchandise May Drink at Earlier Age

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Teen Alcohol Drinking

Owning a piece of clothing or other merchandise with an alcohol brand name on it may be associated with an earlier start to drinking, according to a new study. But a beer-industry representative says that the study doesn't show which comes first: teens getting branded merchandise or starting to drink.

The survey of middle-school students in northern New England found that those who owned a piece of merchandise featuring an alcohol name or logo were twice as likely to have started drinking as those who did not.

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"This is one of the first looks at alcohol-branded merchandise and teen drinking," said Auden C. McClure, M.D., a clinical instructor at Dartmouth Medical School and lead author of the study in the April issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study participants were enrolled in a 1999 survey aimed primarily at looking at factors affecting teen smoking. Students who said they had not used alcohol were followed up one year to two years later by telephone and asked about their drinking, that of their peers and whether they owned anything with an alcohol name on it.

The students were not asked about drinking habits in their family, which could affect the study results, the authors wrote.

Of the 2,406 students who had not started drinking in 1999, 15 percent had started using alcohol and 14 percent owned an item

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