Alcohol Advertising Regulations

The First Amendment provides substantial protections to speech, and thus substantially limits the government’s ability to regulate truthful, non-deceptive alcohol advertising based on concerns about underage appeal. 

For this reason, the Federal Trade Commission has long encouraged the alcohol industry to adopt and comply with self-regulatory standards to reduce the extent to which alcohol advertising targets teens, whether by placement or content. 


Most alcohol advertisers have pledged to comply with one of three voluntary self-regulatory codes designed to limit targeting of teens. Among other provisions, these codes direct that no more than 28.4% of the audience for an ad may consist of people under 21, based on reliable audience data; and that ad content should not appeal primarily to people under 21. For more information about the codes visit the websites for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), the Beer Institute, and the Wine Institute.


The Federal Trade Commission monitors compliance with these codes formally and informally. It has published the results of three major studies on alcohol advertising and industry self-regulation.

If you believe that an ad doesn’t comply with codes, consider filing a complaint. You can submit a complaint with:

For complaints regarding distilled spirits ads, or ads for wine or beer by distilled spirits companies

For complaints regarding beer ads

For complaints regarding wine ads

Use the campaign materials available below to help us keep alcohol out of kids’ hands.

Don’t serve teens.


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