Dr Nathan Critchlow

Nathan Critchlow is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Marketing and Health, University of Stirling. He specialises in analysing commercial determinants of health, the impact of marketing exposure on health-related attitudes and behaviours, and the regulation of marketing practice. His previous research includes analyses of price and market changes following the introduction of standardised tobacco packaging and minimum unit pricing for alcohol, national surveys of adolescent and young adult exposure to alcohol and food marketing, and research into digital marketing, sport sponsorship, advert design, and marketing regulation. His current work includes research into tobacco, alcohol, gambling, and food marketing. He is also on the board of directors at Alcohol Focus Scotland and was previously on secondment as a prevention researcher with the Cancer Policy Research Centre at Cancer Research UK.


Awareness of alcohol marketing and the association with heavy episodic drinking and higher-risk consumption among adults in Ireland: The first steps in a much-needed evaluation of Ireland’s Public Health (Alcohol) Act


Aims: In November 2019, Ireland began to phase-in statutory restrictions on where alcohol can be advertised. Although such controls are recommended by the World Health Organisation, there is limited real-world evidence documenting their effectiveness. To set a baseline for evaluation, we examined pre-implementation awareness of alcohol marketing and whether past-month awareness was associated with higher-risk consumption.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey with adults in Ireland (‘n’=1,007), conducted October 2019, assessed awareness of 13 marketing activities (‘1=Not in last month-6=Everyday). ‘For each, responses were converted into an estimated frequency of awareness in the past month and median splits classified higher/lower awareness. Frequencies were converted into a cumulative estimate of awareness across activities and categorised (‘lower/medium/higher/not stated’). The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test – Consumption (AUDIT-C) assessed heavy episodic drinking (HED; ‘at least’ ‘monthly vs. less often/never’) and higher-risk consumption (‘_>_5 AUDIT-C’).

Results: Almost all adults (94.1%) reported awareness of at least one marketing activity, and half reported awareness of _>_87 instances in the past month. For 10/13 activities, higher past-month awareness was associated with monthly HED (‘ORAdj‘=1.40 to 1.97; ‘p’=0.025 to <0.001) and higher-risk drinking (‘ORAdj‘=1.45 to 1.88; ‘p’=0.033 to <0.001). There were also associations with cumulative awareness, for example those reporting higher awareness were more likely to report monthly HED than lower/medium awareness (‘ORAdj‘=1.90, 95% CI: 1.10, 3.30).

Conclusion: Adults in Ireland are aware of a variety of marketing activities and awareness is associated with monthly HED and higher-risk drinking. My SSA Fellowship will evaluate the impact of these controls over time.

Presentation slides:
Awareness of alcohol marketing and the association with heavy episodic drinking and higher-risk consumption among adults in Ireland: The first steps in a much-needed evaluation of Ireland’s Public Health (Alcohol) Act