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Enhanced enforcement of laws prohibiting alcohol sales to minors

Health Factors: Alcohol & Drug Use
Decision Makers: Local Government State Government Federal Government
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 50-99% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Enhanced enforcement programs initiate or increase the frequency of retailer compliance checks for laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors. Retailer compliance checks are generally conducted by local law enforcement or alcohol beverage control agencies along with other efforts to reduce underage drinking (e.g., mass media campaigns publicizing enforcement activities). Violators receive legal or administrative sanctions (CG-Alcohol).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced underage alcohol purchases
Reduced underage drinking

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that enhanced enforcement of laws that prohibit alcohol sales to minors reduces retail sales to minors (CG-Alcohol, RAND-Imm 2007). Such enforcement also appears to reduce underage alcohol consumption (CG-AlcoholIOM-Underage drinking 2004). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Enhanced enforcement programs have been shown to reduce sales to minors of various racial and ethnic groups in both bars and liquor stores, in rural and urban communities (CG-Alcohol). Research suggests that compliance checks are most effective when checks are frequent, well-publicized, well-designed, solicit community support, and involve penalties to the licensed establishment, instead of just the server (RAND-Imm 2007).


United States

Baltimore’s Campus Community Initiative of the Combating Underage Drinking Coalition is one example of a community effort that includes enhanced enforcement of laws prohibiting sales to minors (NACCHO-Baltimore alcohol).

Citations - Description

CG-Alcohol - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Preventing excessive alcohol consumption. Accessed on December 1, 2015

Citations - Evidence

CG-Alcohol - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Preventing excessive alcohol consumption. Accessed on December 1, 2015
IOM-Underage drinking 2004 - Institute of Medicine (IOM), National Research Council (NRC), Committee on Developing a Strategy to Reduce and Prevent Underage Drinking, Board on Children, Youth, and Families (BCYF). Reducing underage drinking: A collective responsibility. (Bonnie RJ, O’Connell ME, eds.). Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2004. Accessed on February 24, 2016
RAND-Imm 2007 - Imm P, Chinman M, Wandersman A, et al. Preventing underage drinking: Using Getting To Outcomes™ with the SAMHSA strategic prevention framework to achieve results. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation; 2007: Technical Report 403. Accessed on November 9, 2015

Citations - Implementation

NACCHO-Baltimore alcohol - National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO). Campus community initiative of the combating underage drinking coalition. Accessed on March 1, 2016

Page Last Updated

August 28, 2014