Under the Influence: Creating Alcohol-Safe Communities

National Alcohol Policy XI Conference

The American Medical Association (AMA) organized the national conference, "Alcohol Policy XI – Common Goals, Common Challenges: Creating Alcohol-Safe Communities Through Alcohol Policies."

The conference, cosponsored by the federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) and nine other organizations, was the eleventh in the series, was held on May 10–13, 1998, in Chicago, Ill. It was attended by 378 people, including:

  • Alcohol policymakers and researchers.
  • Leaders of youth community organizations.
  • Representatives of university alcohol control programs, public health departments, and religious organizations.
  • Physicians interested in policy and primary prevention.

Key Highlights and Findings Presented

  • Reductions in alcohol abuse can be achieved through a variety of environmental policies. Among the effective strategies highlighted at the conference:
    • Reducing alcohol billboards and other advertisements.
    • Requiring beer kegs to be registered.
    • Making changes to zoning laws to reduce the concentration of bars and restaurants in certain neighborhoods.
  • Other potential policies include:
    • Raise taxes on alcohol.
    • Ban drive-up liquor windows.
  • Coalitions between community groups, health care providers, law enforcement officials and others can effectively unite to conduct alcohol prevention programs and influence alcohol policy. Among the many projects highlighted:
    • Latino community organizations in San Jose, Calif., created a multimedia social marketing campaign to counteract alcohol advertising targeted at cultural festivals such as Cinco de Mayo.
  • Physicians in clinical settings may be missing "teachable moments" that could reduce their patients' alcohol consumption. Screening and brief intervention (SBI), an alcohol abuse prevention program that trains physicians to identify problem drinkers and provide them with brief counseling, shows promise in decreasing problem drinking, according to a review of previous studies.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided a grant of $98,065 from August 1997 to August 1998 in partial support of the meeting.

RWJF provided support for the next conference, "Alcohol Policy XII, Alcohol and Crime: Research and Practice for Prevention," which was held in June 2000. See Program Results on ID# 038022.

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