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Communities Containing More Alcohol Outlets Show Increased Underage Alcohol Access
Date:5/21/2009

Research Indicates Communities with a Higher Concentration of Alcohol Outlets are More Likely to Contain Greater Levels of Underage Alcohol Access.

BERKELEY, Calif., May 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Communities containing larger numbers of stores selling alcohol are more likely to have higher levels of underage alcohol access, according to a three-year study carried out by the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Berkeley, CA.

Researchers surveyed 14- to 16-year-old adolescents in 50 California ZIP codes, and found that ZIP codes with greater densities of off-premises alcohol outlets, such as liquor or grocery stores, correlated to respondents reporting more alcohol access through either commercial or social sources. The study was published in the latest edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

"Study after study shows that having high outlet density leads to a variety of alcohol-related problems, especially for youth," said Dr. Paul Gruenewald, principal investigator of the project. "Communities should keep that in mind when they make decisions about zoning and licensing."

Since the drinking age was raised to 21 in 1984, strategies for reducing underage drinking have restricted youth alcohol access by preventing purchases from commercial establishments. This approach has proven effective, and when laws are enforced more vigorously the prevention is even greater.

Still, American youth find alcohol readily available as indicated by studies that show underage-looking individuals could purchase alcohol from off-premise outlets anywhere from 30% to 70% of the time. In addition, the likelihood that purchase attempts succeed at one outlet is higher if similar outlets are nearby. High alcohol outlet densities can also be associated with a variety of negative impacts on youth well-being, including underage drinking and driving, viol
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SOURCE The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
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