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Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth

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).

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):


  1. 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.