American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 51, Issue 1–2, pp 264–277 | Cite as

Reducing Youth Access to Alcohol: Findings from a Community-Based Randomized Trial

  • Robert L. Flewelling
  • Joel W. Grube
  • M. J. Paschall
  • Anthony Biglan
  • Anne Kraft
  • Carol Black
  • Sean M. Hanley
  • Christopher Ringwalt
  • Chris Wiesen
  • Jeff Ruscoe
Original Paper

Abstract

Underage drinking continues to be an important public health problem and a challenge to the substance abuse prevention field. Community-based interventions designed to more rigorously control underage access to alcohol through retailer education and greater enforcement of underage drinking laws have been advocated as potentially effective strategies to help address this problem, but studies designed to evaluate such interventions are sparse. To address this issue we conducted a randomized trial involving 36 communities to test the combined effectiveness of five interrelated intervention components designed to reduce underage access to alcohol. The intervention was found to be effective in reducing the likelihood that retail clerks would sell alcohol to underage-looking buyers, but did not reduce underage drinking or the perceived availability of alcohol among high school students. Post hoc analyses, however, revealed significant associations between the level of underage drinking law enforcement in the intervention communities and reductions in both 30-day use of alcohol and binge drinking. The findings highlight the difficulty in reducing youth drinking even when efforts to curtail retail access are successful. Study findings also suggest that high intensity implementation of underage drinking law enforcement can reduce underage drinking. Any such effects of enhanced enforcement on underage drinking appear to be more directly attributable to an increase in perceived likelihood of enforcement and the resultant perceived inconveniences and/or sanctions to potential drinkers, than to a reduction in access to alcohol per se.

Keywords

Environmental prevention strategies Underage drinking Enforcing underage drinking laws Underage access to alcohol Reward and reminder 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research and preparation of this paper were supported by grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA014958 and AA06282). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIAAA or the National Institutes of Health.

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Copyright information

© Society for Community Research and Action 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Flewelling
    • 1
  • Joel W. Grube
    • 2
  • M. J. Paschall
    • 2
  • Anthony Biglan
    • 3
  • Anne Kraft
    • 3
  • Carol Black
    • 3
  • Sean M. Hanley
    • 1
  • Christopher Ringwalt
    • 1
  • Chris Wiesen
    • 4
  • Jeff Ruscoe
    • 5
  1. 1.Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Chapel Hill CenterChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Prevention Research CenterBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Oregon Research InstituteEugeneUSA
  4. 4.Odum Institute for Social ScienceChapel HillUSA
  5. 5.Oregon Health Authority, Addiction and Mental Health DivisionSalemUSA

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