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Prev Med. 2005 Mar;40(3):355-62.

Community level alcohol availability and enforcement of possession laws as predictors of youth drinking.

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  • 1Oregon Research Institute, Eugene, OR 97403, USA.



Despite a minimum legal drinking age, many young people use alcohol. Environmental strategies to control youth drinking focus on restricting access and the enforcement of possession laws. This study examines the relationship between use of these strategies and the frequency of youth alcohol use and related problems.


Participants were 16,694 students, ages 16-17 in 92 communities in Oregon. A multi-level analysis of a repeated cross-sectional statewide student survey was conducted. The outcome measures examined include 30-day frequency of alcohol use, binge drinking, use of alcohol at school, and drinking and driving.


The rate of illegal merchant sales in the communities directly related to all four alcohol-use outcomes. There was also evidence that communities with higher minor in possession law enforcement had lower rates of alcohol use and binge drinking. The use of various sources in a community expanded and contracted somewhat depending on levels of access and enforcement.


This evidence provides empirical support for the potential utility of local efforts to maintain or increase alcohol access control and possession enforcement.

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