Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The public health approach to preventing underage drinking

Earlier this summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hosted a webinar: The Role of Public Health in Preventing Underage and Excessive Drinking by Adults.  During the webinar, national experts examined new research findings on the relationship between alcohol policies and underage drinking and provided recommendations for policy and community prevention strategies.  

What works to prevent underage drinking?
Recommended interventions for preventing underage drinking include:
  • Increasing alcohol taxes.
  • Limiting the density of alcohol retail outlets.
  • Commercial host liability laws that hold businesses that serve alcohol liable for serving minors.
Two of the challenges to promoting a public health approach to preventing underage drinking include:
  • Lack of attention to policy and community factors that influence underage drinking.
  • Limited public health capacity to inform communities about prevention strategies.

Policies that affect adults also affect youth
When a state has strong policies to prevent excessive alcohol consumption among adults, youth in that state tend to drink less than youth in states with weak adult-related policies.  "Youth-drinking is not simply an age-specific problem, and optimal approaches to prevention include policies that address excessive drinking in the general population."

Barriers to implementing strong alcohol control policies include the commercial interests (alcohol businesses including retailers) that have the capacity to lobby against regulations.  However, communities are finding success in getting local alcohol control ordinances adopted.

Learn more!
Another free webinar about preventing underage drinking will be offered this fall.

September 18, 2013, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

This webinar, hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, will explore prevention research that strongly supports the use of comprehensive, integrated programs with multiple complementary components to address underage drinking.

For more information and to register, visit

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