What You Can DoCommunity Collaboration Among Public and Private Sectors

Is there collaboration among public and private schools, community businesses, local government, and the police force to develop and enforce policies related to youth alcohol use?

Use multiple, integrated strategies to develop and enforce policies related to youth alcohol use. Multicomponent, community-based strategies that integrate schools, parents, community members, local government, and law enforcement are more effective than single-component strategies. This is because the individual components of a multicomponent strategy strengthen, complement, and support one another. Multicomponent strategies create an additive effect that is greater than the sum of the individual components. Also, in the undesirable event of one component being unable to participate, the remining components may continue to exert a significant preventive effect.

For example, in the area of Responsible Beverage Service (RBS), a multicomponent strategy could include mass media promotion, server training, drinking establishment management policy and procedure development, community monitoring to observe whether outlets serve intoxicated partons and card youthful patrons, and collaboration with law enforcement to take action against offenders.

Establish policies that apply specific public health and safety standards to alcohol availability.
Community members can become actively involved in developing local planning and zoning ordinances that offer a powerful opportunity to manage retail availability. Zoning ordinances can place the following limits on alcohol outlets:

  • On-sale (an outlet with a license to sell alcohol for on-premise consumption) and off-sale (an outlet with a license to sell alcohol for off-premise consumption) outlets can be limited to certain zones or disallowed altogether.
  • Density restrictions can limit the number of alcohol outlets per unit of population for a geographic area, or as a percentage of all retail alcohol outlets in a given commercial area.
  • Spacing restrictions can specify the distance between alcohol outlets, or between alcohol outlets and schools, churches, residences, parks, and playgrounds.
  • Hours of operation can be limited.
  • Conditions of design and operation, such as Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) training, can be established to ensure that the premises are maintained safely and securely and that appropriate practices are followed to prevent sales to underage youth, inebriates, drinking drivers, and others.

Form a campus and community coalition involving all major stakeholders to reduce alcohol availability to underage youth.
If you live in a community where there is a college or university campus, you may find that underage alcohol use is a common occurrence and accepted norm of the community. This should not be the case. A number of comprehensive community efforts have been designed to reduce alcohol and other substance use and related negative consequences among underaged youth, including college students, and their outcomes demonstrate the potential effectiveness of this approach in college communities. For example, Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol (CMCA), which was designed specifically to reduce drinking among young people, resulted in reduced alcohol sales to minors. In the CMCA project young people ages 18 to 20 reduced their propensity to provide alcohol to other teens and were less likely to try to buy alcohol, drink in a bar, or consume alcohol.

Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol (CMCA)
is a community-organizing program designed to reduce adolescents’ (13 to 20 years of age) access to alcohol by changing community policies and practices. It seeks both to effectively limit the access to alcohol of people under legal drinking age and to communicate a clear message to the community that underage drinking is inappropriate and unacceptable. It employs a range of social-organizing techniques to address legal, institutional, social, and health issues in order to reduce youth alcohol use by eliminating illegal alcohol sales to youth by retailers and by obstructing the provision of alcohol to youth by adults. It involves community members in seeking and achieving changes in local public policies and the practices of community institutions that can affect youths’ access to alcohol.

In addition to college presidents and campus administrators, stakeholders in campus-community coalitions include student groups, faculty, staff, community leaders, law enforcement, and representatives from hospitality and alcohol beverage industries. This approach reframes the issue as a community problem, not simply a college problem, brings together the range of players needed to address it, and sets the stage for cooperative action. Research shows that promoting community ownership of programs enhances success. On that basis, active campus and community coalitions can be expected to:

  • build support for addressing underage and excessive college drinking;
  • help assure that strategies used respond to genuine community needs;
  • maintain and institutionalize effective strategies; and
  • evaluate and disseminate the results of the coalition's activities to other college communities.

Remove alcohol promotions that appeal to children
. Children see and hear positive messages about alcohol every day. Billboard ads and store promotions for alcoholic beverages often display attractive young people or endearing cartoon characters, and many products, from T-shirts to cookie jars, feature alcohol beverage logos. Communities can work collaboratively with schools and the local government to ask billboard companies and local merchants to stop alcohol promotions and remove tie-in products that are alluring to children.

The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) reports that the alcohol industry spent a total of $5.7 billion or more on advertising and promotion in 2002. CAMY reported the following about advertising and youth:

  • In 2001, the alcohol industry spent over $31 million and placed 1,441 ads on 13 of the 15 prime time network programs with the largest teen audiences for a representative week.
  • Youth saw more beer and distilled spirits advertising than adults in magazines in 2001—45% more for beer brands and 27% more for distilled spirits brands.
  • Alcohol advertising was placed on stations with "youth" formats. In 2001 and 2002, 73% of the alcohol radio advertising in terms of gross ratings points was on four formats that routinely have a disproportionately large listening audience of 12- to 20- year-olds —Rhythmic Contemporary Hit, Pop Contemporary Hit, Urban Contemporary and Alternative.

Advertising messages equate alcohol with fun, sex, music, sports, and adult glamour while making no mention of harmful consequences. Media messages paint images of drinking as the norm, and abstinence is rarely presented as an option. When alcohol-related problems are portrayed, the focus is on individual responsibility. Of particular concern, as noted above, are media practices that target or appeal to youth: sponsorship of sports, music, and festivals; billboards near schools and recreation areas; marketing of novelty items (clothing, sports equipment, promotional items); contests; and websites.

The University of Minnesota Alcohol Epidemiology Project website (http://www.epi.umn.edu/alcohol/) provides a wide range of advertising and promotion controls communities could implement as either ordinances or voluntary measures:

  • Ban placement of alcohol product ads on public transportation vehicles and shelters, on supermarket carts, point of sale merchandising, schools, and theme parks.
  • Use counter-advertising efforts through public service announcements.
  • Restrict alcohol industry sponsorship of sports, festivals, rodeos, and musical events.
  • Require health-warning labels on all alcohol advertising.
  • Ban alcohol advertising in or near schools and campuses, residential areas, and faith organizations.
  • Implement school bans on wearing of clothes with alcohol advertising.
  • Increase truth in advertising.
  • Reduce the disproportionately high number of alcohol billboards in low-income neighborhoods.

Wagenaar AC, Toomey TL, Murray DM, et al. 1996. Sources of alcohol for underage drinkers. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 57:325-333.

Preventing Sales of Alcohol to Minors: What You Should Know About Merchant Education Programs. 1999.  Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation: Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center.

Grover, P.L. (ed). Preventing Problems Related to Alcohol Availability: Environmental Approaches: Practitioners’ Guide. Prevention Enhancement Protocols System (PEPS). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Parents Unite to Prevent Underage Drinking. 2002. Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. Available at: http://www.michiganprincipals.org/parentresources/pdf/ParentsUniteBook.pdf#search=%22what%20agencies%20can%20do%20to%20prevent%20underage%20drinking%22. Accessed on [10/9/06]

Grossberg, P.M., Brown, D.D. & Fleming, M.F. 2004. Brief Physician Advice for High-Risk Drinking Among Young Adults. Annals of Family Medicine. 2(5): 474-480.

Straus, M. KCRA Channel 3 News: Learning Matters Segment. 12/8/2004.

Regulatory Strategies for Preventing Youth Access to Alcohol: Best Practices. 1999. Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

Preventing Problems Related to Alcohol Availability: Environmental Approaches. Prevention Enhancement Protocols System (PEPS). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

4 Tiers: College Drinking—Changing the Culture. Available at: http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/StatsSummaries/4tier.aspx. Accessed on [10/3/06]

4 Tiers: College Drinking—Changing the Culture. Available at: http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/StatsSummaries/4tier.aspx. Accessed on [10/3/06]

Hoover, S.A. Policy Strategies to Reduce Underage and Binge Drinking. Community Prevention Institute.