Underage Drinking: Restricting Access
Excerpts from The Surgeon General's Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking
All text in this fact sheet is excerpted directly from The Surgeon General's Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking, a 2007 report from the Office of the Surgeon General (emphases added).
Colleges and universities have a responsibility to reduce risk factors associated with underage alcohol use and an obligation to students to protect them from adverse consequences of their own or others' alcohol use, such as accidents, assaults, and rapes. Some of the measures available to colleges are to: (Surgeon General's Call to Action, 55).
- Restrict or eliminate alcohol sales at concerts and at athletic and other campus events (Call to Action, 55).
- Reinstate Friday classes to shorten the elongated weekend (Call to Action, 55).
- Work with the local community to coordinate efforts at preventing and reducing underage drinking on and around campus. Easy access to alcohol on a college campus can undermine community efforts to reduce alcohol use by junior high and high school students (Call to Action, 56).
- Work with the local community to control or reduce the number of bars and other alcohol outlets located near the campus and to eliminate or restrict high-volume, low-price drink specials and other promotions that encourage underage drinking. Easy, low-cost access to alcohol for underage youth off campus can undermine efforts on campus to reduce underage drinking (Call to Action, 56).
- Work with the local community to ensure that bars and other alcohol outlets located near the campus comply with server training regulations and enforce all policies and laws with respect to underage youth (Call to Action, 56).
- Work with the community to eliminate loud house parties and other disruptive events in which underage alcohol use is likely to be involved (Call to Action, 56).
Raise the "cost" of underage alcohol use.
The "cost" of underage drinking refers not just to the price of alcohol but to the total sacrifice in time, effort, and resources required to obtain it as well as to penalties associated with its use. Research indicates that increasing the cost of drinking can positively affect adolescent decisions about alcohol use.1 In addition to price, the cost of underage drinking can be affected by a variety of measures (Call to Action, 58):
- Enforcement of minimum drinking age laws and other measures that directly reduce alcohol availability. Enforcement should target underage drinkers, merchants who sell alcohol to youth, and people who provide alcohol to youth (Call to Action, 58).
- Appropriate parental penalties for adolescent alcohol use, such as loss of privileges (e.g., allowance, going out with friends, use of the car) (Call to Action, 58).
- Holding adults accountable for underage drinking at house parties, even when those adults are not at home (Call to Action, 58).
- Enforcement of zero-tolerance laws that ban underage youth from driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above detectable levels (Call to Action, 58).
- Any measure that decreases the availability of alcohol to youth and so raises the cost of getting it (Call to Action, 58).
- Elimination of low-price, high-volume drink specials, especially in proximity to college campuses, military bases, and other locations with a high concentration of youth (Call to Action, page 59).
- D. Coate and M. Grossman. "Effects of alcoholic beverage prices and legal drinking ages on youth alcohol use," Journal of Law and Economics 31(1988):145-171; M. Grossman, D. Coate, and G. M. Arluck, "Price sensitivity of alcoholic beverages in the United States: Youth alcohol consumption," in Control Issues in Alcohol Abuse Prevention: Strategies for States and Communities(Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1987), 169-198; M. Grossman, F. J. Chaloupka, and I. Sirtalan, "An empirical analysis of alcohol addiction: Results from the Monitoring the Future panels," Economic Inquiry 36 (1998):39-48; D. S. Kenkel, "Drinking, driving, and deterrence: The effectiveness and social costs of alternative policies," Journal of Law and Economics 36 (1993):877-913; C. J. Ruhm, "Alcohol policies and highway vehicle fatalities," Journal of Health Economics 15 (1996):435-454; M. Sutton and C. Godfrey, "A grouped data regression approach to estimating economic and social influences on individual drinking behavior," Health Economics 4 (1995):237-247.