Reducing Underage Drinking Through Coalitions

An RWJF National Program

Dates of Program: April 1995 through March 2007

Field of Work: State coalitions working to reduce underage drinking and related injury and other health and social problems.

Problem Synopsis: Alcohol was a hidden problem of youth, obscured by fears of kids' smoking and taking illegal drugs. More adolescents experimented with alcohol than they did with cigarettes or illegal drugs.

Synopsis of the Work: Reducing Underage Drinking Through Coalitions made grants to 12 coalitions in 10 states. The coalitions included state government agencies, nonprofit organizations in the alcohol and drug field, colleges and universities, law enforcement organizations, attorneys general's offices and educational and civic groups. They educated the public and policy-makers about the dangers of underage drinking and potential policy changes to reduce underage drinking and the harm it caused.

Key Results

  • Coalition states showed significant increases in media coverage on underage drinking, alcohol pricing and taxes, compliance checks, beer keg registration requirements and social host liability compared with non-coalition states.

  • The coalitions raised the issue of underage drinking as a topic of concern in legislation, among the public and in the media.

  • Some youth drinking measures showed statistically significant greater declines in coalition states than non-coalition states.

  • The work of the coalitions and their allies led to the amendment of more than 24 state laws and 85 state policy initiatives.

  • Many communities passed local ordinances to reduce underage drinking.

    The AMA took a much more active role in combating underage drinking.

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