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Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth

Key Recommendations to Reduce Underage Drinking


1) Alcohol companies, advertising companies, and commercial media should refrain from marketing practices (including product design, advertising, and promotional techniques) that have substantial underage appeal and should take reasonable precautions in the time, place, and manner of placement and promotion to reduce youthful exposure to other alcohol advertising and marketing activity (Recommendation 7-2, Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility, 136).

2) The alcohol industry trade associations, as well as individual companies, should strengthen their advertising codes to preclude placement of commercial messages in venues where a significant proportion of the expected audience is underage, to prohibit the use of commercial messages that have substantial underage appeal, and to establish independent external review boards to investigate complaints and enforce the codes (Recommendation 7-3, Reducing Underage Drinking, 137).

3) Congress should appropriate the necessary funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to monitor underage exposure to alcohol advertising on a continuing basis and to report periodically to Congress and the public. The report should include information on the underage percentage of the exposed audience and estimated number of underage viewers of print and broadcasting alcohol advertising in national markets and, for television and radio broadcasting, in a selection of large local or regional markets (Recommendation 7-4, Reducing Underage Drinking, 143).

For more information on alcohol industry marketing activities, please see the Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility, Alcohol Advertising and Promotion fact sheet.

Media Campaigns

1) The federal government should fund and actively support the development of a national media effort, as a major component of an adult-oriented campaign to reduce underage drinking (Recommendation 6-1, Reducing Underage Drinking, 108).

2) Intensive research and development for a youth-focused national media campaign relating to underage drinking should be initiated. If this work yields promising results, the inclusion of a youth-focused campaign in the strategy should be reconsidered (Recommendation 10-1, Reducing Underage Drinking, 192).

Federal and State Governments

1) A federal interagency coordinating committee on prevention of underage drinking should be established, chaired by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Recommendation 12-1, Reducing Underage Drinking, 235).

2) The annual report of the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on underage drinking should include key indicators of underage drinking (Recommendation 12-5, Reducing Underage Drinking, 238).

The key indicators should include:

3) The Monitoring the Future (MTF) Survey and the National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) should be revised to elicit more precise information on the quantity of alcohol consumed and to ascertain brand preferences of underage drinkers (Recommendation 12-6, Reducing Underage Drinking, 239).

4) Congress and state legislatures should raise excise taxes to reduce underage consumption and to raise additional revenues for this purpose. Top priority should be given to raising beer taxes, and excise tax rates for all alcoholic beverages should be indexed to the consumer price index so that they keep pace with inflation without the necessity of further legislative action (Recommendation 12-7, Reducing Underage Drinking, 244).


1) Community leaders should assess the underage drinking problem in their communities and consider effective approaches - such as community organizing, coalition building, and the strategic use of the mass media - to reduce drinking among underage youth (Recommendation 11-1, Reducing Underage Drinking, 219).

2) Public and private funders should support community mobilization to reduce underage drinking. Federal funding for reducing and preventing underage drinking should be available under a national program dedicated to community-level approaches to reducing underage drinking, similar to the Drug Free Communities Act, which supports communities in addressing substance abuse with targeted, evidence-based prevention strategies (Recommendation 11-2, Reducing Underage Drinking, 231).


1) States should strengthen their compliance check programs in retail outlets, using media campaigns and license revocation to increase deterrence (Recommendation 9-2, Reducing Underage Drinking, 169).

2) States and localities should implement enforcement programs to deter adults from purchasing alcohol for minors (Recommendation 9-7, Reducing Underage Drinking, 176).

3) States should facilitate enforcement of zero tolerance laws in order to increase their deterrent effect. (Recommendation 9-9, Reducing Underage Drinking, 179).

4) Local police, working with community leaders, should adopt and announce policies for detecting and terminating underage drinking parties (Recommendation 9-12, Reducing Underage Drinking, 180).


  1. L.D. Johnston, P.M. O’Malley, and J.G. Bachman, "Cigarette Brands Smoked by American Teens: One Brand Predominates; Three Account for Nearly All of Teen Smoking," (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan News and Information Services, 1999).
  2. F.J. Chaloupka, H. Saffer, and M. Grossman, "Alcohol-Control Policies and Motor-Vehicle Fatalities," Journal of Legal Studies 22, no. 1 (1993): 161-186.