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J Stud Alcohol. 1996 Nov;57(6):670-4.

Characteristics, policies and practices of alcohol outlets and sales to underage persons.

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Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55454-1015, USA.



A recent study found that many alcohol outlets sold alcohol to youthful-appearing study confederates. This article expands upon that work by exploring the linkages between the policies, practices and characteristics of outlets and their propensity to sell alcohol to persons under the legal drinking age.


Data on alcohol outlets are from a telephone survey of 100 establishments located in 28 communities in northeastern Minnesota that hold off-sale licenses for the sale of distilled spirits and/or full strength beer and wine. Alcohol purchase attempts were conducted in each outlet to provide a measure of propensity to sell alcohol to underage persons. Youthful-appearing study confederates conducted three separate purchase attempts in each outlet. Multiple linear regression was used to estimate the effects of outlet characteristics and policies on the purchase success rate.


Bars were less likely than liquor stores or bar/liquor stores to sell to study confederates. Having a manager on the premises at all times was associated with a 15% lower purchase success rate in bars. Requiring formal training of bar staff involved in alcohol sales was associated with a 19% lower purchase success rate. No outlet characteristics or practices were associated with the purchase success rate in liquor stores and bar/liquor stores.


These results underscore the importance of research and intervention focusing on alcohol outlet policies and practices that affect the propensity to sell alcohol to persons under the legal drinking age.

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