Policy and enforcement approaches are often advocated as best practices to reduce underage drinking.Research indicates that there is considerable variability in alcohol policy and enforcement at the state andlocal level, but few studies have examined whether variations in local policies and enforcement activities arerelated to differences in alcohol use and related problems among young people. Apparently no studies havenvestigated whether local alcohol policies and/or enforcement activities influence initiation to drinking ordrinking trajectories. Very little is known about the mediating mechanisms (e.g., sources of alcohol,perceived availability, perceived enforcement, perceived norms) through which environmental interventionsmay affect youth alcohol use. Additionally, no studies have investigated the extent to which local alcoholpolicies may interact with background and personal characteristics of young people (e.g., age, gender,ethnicity) and levels of enforcement. Such moderating effects may be important for understanding how localpolicies influence youth access to alcohol and underage drinking. To address these questions, the proposedstudy will use annual assessments of local regulatory policies, practices, and enforcement activities basedon archival and key informant survey data. Adolescents' drinking beliefs, behaviors, and problems will bemeasured using annual telephone surveys in the same cities.
The specific aims of the study are to (1)describe and quantify local alcohol regulatory policies, practices, and enforcement activities in a sample of50 California cities and document changes in these policies over time; (2) determine whether local regulatorypolicies, practices, and enforcement activities are associated with differences in underage drinking anddrinking problems and changes in drinking behaviors and problems over time; (3) investigate whetherdifferences in local alcohol policies and enforcement are related to potentially important intermediate factors(e.g., sources of alcohol, perceived availability, perceived enforcement, alcohol expectancies, perceivednorms) and to changes in these factors over time; (4) investigate the extent to which relationships of policieswith drinking behaviors, and changes in drinking behaviors and problems, are mediated through theseintermediate factors; and (5) investigate whether age, gender, and ethnic differences moderate therelationships between local regulatory policies, practices and enforcement activities and drinking beliefs andbehaviors, and changes in these beliefs and behaviors, over time. A secondary aim of the study is to explorecommunity characteristics (e.g., availability of resources, disorganization, ethnic diversity, presence ofcoalitions) that may be related to the adoption of more comprehensive policies. This study will help to identifyeffective policy practices at the local level for reducing underage drinking and alcohol-related problems. Theultimate goal of this research to identify effective policy and enforcement practices that can be used at thelocal level for preventing and reducing underage drinking and drinking problems.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Comprehensive Center (P60)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1-BB (11))
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Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
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