Dealing With the Alcohol Industry

A Matter of Degree

Dates of Project: 1995 to 2008

Field of Work: Curbing college binge drinking through an environmental approach that seeks to change the factors that influence young people to drink excessively, such as easy access to inexpensive alcohol and the failure to penalize underage and high-risk drinking.

Synopsis of the Work: A Matter of Degree: Reducing High-Risk Drinking Among College Students was a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that funded work at 10 universities to address high-risk drinking; universities established campus-community coalitions committed to making changes in the university and community environments. The American Medical Association managed the program.

Story Told: The American Medical Association consistently took the position of not working with the alcohol industry. Richard Yoast, Ph.D., national program director, noted, "As a national program office we were very critical of industry product development and marketing targeting underage and collegiate drinkers. Their stance was that essentially everyone was to blame for underage drinking and college binge drinking except the alcohol industry." This sidebar describes criticism the program received as a result of not working with the alcohol industry and focusing on the health impacts of alcohol.