Environmental Strategies to Reduce Community Alcohol Problems
Research indicates that alcohol control policies, such as raising the minimum legal drinking age to 21 and lowering the legal blood alcohol limit for driving have helped to reduce drinking and driving as well as other alcohol related problems among youth and young adults. However, hazardous drinking and related problems such as drinking and driving are still prevalent among young people.
A number of promising environmental strategies have been identified to address these problems. These include party dispersal operations, responsible beverage service training, underage decoy operations at retail establishments, and penalties for underage possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages and drinking and driving. But how can communities select the most effective approaches for their particular circumstances? How can they mount a coordinated effort to implement these strategies?
The Prevention Research Center has developed informational resources for communities to aid in this process. Using logic models, community leaders can help identify the most pressing alcohol problems among young people in their particular community, select the best approaches for each of these problems, and create an action plan to implement these strategies.
The goals of the materials are to:
- Select strategies that are evidence based;
- Select strategies that are responsive to the real problems in the community;
- Ensure that the planning process is efficient and effective an moves quickly to action;
- Maximize synergy among the selected strategies.
The logic model below shows how various factors in the community environment influence underage drinking and related problems.
The nature of the interrelationships among these community factors is shown by arrows, with the bolder arrows indicating stronger evidence-based relationships, while the thinner or dotted arrows indicate weaker relationships or relationships that may be difficult to influence.
The colored balloons show strategies that can be used to prevent underage drinking and related problems. The tables below detail some of the features of these strategies.
|Nuisance Party Patrols||Citation given to host(s) of large, noisy parties. Aim is to reduce number of such parties or for host to keep them small and quiet.|| • Especially welcome if nearby neighbors are complaining|
• Covers teens and young adults
• Citation and adjudication are quick
|• In some cases, officers may feel they need a complaint in order to approach a party.|
• If participants are young parents may have to be called
|Social Host Ordinances||Citation given to owner of property where underage youth are drinking||More directly targets underage drinking than nuisance party ordinances||Often unenforced||Often used to prosecute host following an alcohol-related crash of an underage person|
Reduce Retail Availability
|Decoy Operations (Compliance Checks)|
Reducing Underage Alcohol Sales
|Server is cited if he or she sells alcohol to an underage youth working with law enforcement. Licensee is also penalized||Standard operating procedures are very well developed||Requires team of enforcement officers and recruiting youths||Very effective when done relatively frequently|
Reducing Underage Alcohol Sales
|Young-looking but legal-age people attempt to buy alcohol to see if they are asked for ID. Can also be a “Reward and Reminder” program: If yes, a small reward is given, if no, a reminder is given.||
• No legal consequences, so seen more favorably by some|
• Does not require enforcement professionals, so more places can be visited more often
• Can provide local data on retailer compliance
• Volunteers need to be recruited|
• May be less effective than enforcement option
• No reason that this can’t be used together with Decoy operation.|
• Rewards should not be “permanent” (e.g., stickers on windows)
Retail Serving Practices (onsite and off-site licenses)
|Responsible Beverage Service Training||Gives servers training on serving laws and some skills to identify and refuse service to minors and intoxicated patrons||• On-line training is cost-effective and easily obtained|
• Usually supported by retailers and community.
|Training alone is unlikely to be effective (but could be an important part of a larger effort)||• Can be offered with relatively low effort|
• Can include standards beyond meeting state law.
|Responsible Beverage Service Enforcement||To enforce state laws prohibiting service to minors and/or intoxicated patrons.||Visible enforcement is more likely to change server/seller behavior than training alone||• ABC has limited enforcement capabilities|
• Local enforcement may lack resources to implement
• Specific training required
|Most effective when supplemented by local alcohol control measures|
Drinking & Driving
|Roadside DUI Checkpoints||Drivers are selected at random along major arteries and screened and breath tested where indicated||Very effective deterrence||• Full-size Checkpoints can be labor-intensive|
• Requires publicity
|• Can create synergy when combined with RBS interventions|
• Small-scale version is a good alternative
|DUI Saturation Patrols||Dedicated team(s) patrol streets looking for DUI||• Less labor-intensive|
• Often favored since team can be pulled away easily
|• Team may be pulled away easily|
• Far less visible to public than roadside checkpoints
|High visibility of saturation patrols may increase deterrent effect especially as part of a larger DUI strategy|
Because strategies that limit youth access to alcohol can be so
effective, we are providing even more detail about these strategies in
the following tool.
Limiting Youth Access to Alcohol