Alcohol and tobacco consumption have been identi- fied as leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Despite this fact, these substances are sold legally and adver- tising is generally permitted. A variety of restrictions have, nonethe- less, been imposed on both the sales and the advertising of these products and still others have been proposed, though this has be- come a highly controversial issue and the source of considerable debate. The aspect of this debate which centers on children and ado- lescents is the topic of this article. Public health advocates claim that recent alarming trends in the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco use among minors are due, at least in part, to the extensive advertising campaigns in which these industries engage. Industry representa- tives retort that, since no scientific research study has proven that their ads cause consumption among this age group, these claims are unfounded. The purpose of this article is to analyse what have, to date, been sources of considerable confusion in this area and to sug- gest an alternative framework for future discussions.