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Campus alcohol bans

Health Factors: Alcohol & Drug Use
Decision Makers: Educators
Evidence Rating: Insufficient Evidence
Population Reach: 1-9% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Campus alcohol bans at colleges and universities limit consumption of alcohol in designated areas. Bans can restrict consumption of alcohol anywhere on campus or ban alcohol only in specific areas such as residence halls.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced excessive drinking
Reduced underage drinking

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is insufficient evidence to determine whether banning alcohol on college campuses reduces underage and excessive drinking. Available evidence suggests that limiting access to alcohol on campus through campus-wide bans may decrease the frequency of alcohol use and heavy drinking, but may not reduce binge drinking (Wechsler 2001a). Targeted residence hall bans that also prohibit cigarette use appear to decrease alcohol use whereas bans that prohibit alcohol alone may not (Wechsler 2001b). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects (NIAAA-College drinking 2002).


United States

According to a 2004 study, approximately a third (34%) of public and private four-year universities implement campus-wide alcohol bans; a majority (81%) of universities offer alcohol-free residence halls or floors to students (Wechsler 2004). Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, and University of Missouri are examples of public universities with campus bans on alcohol.


Wisconsin Lutheran College has a campus alcohol ban which prohibits alcoholic beverages on campus, in residence halls, and at college-sponsored student events (WLC-Student policies).

Citations - Evidence

NIAAA-College drinking 2002 - Task Force of the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health (NIH). A call to action: Changing the culture of drinking at US colleges. Rockville: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA); 2002. Accessed on March 1, 2016
Wechsler 2001a* - Wechsler H, Lee JE, Gledhill-Hoyt J, Nelson TF. Alcohol use and problems at colleges banning alcohol: Results of national survey. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2001;62(2):133-41. Accessed on December 12, 2015
Wechsler 2001b* - Wechsler H, Lee JE, Nelson TF, Lee H. Drinking levels, alcohol problems and secondhand effects in substance-free college residences: Results of a national study. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2001;62(1):23-31. Accessed on December 12, 2015

Citations - Implementation

Wechsler 2004 - Wechsler H, Seibring M, Li IC, Ahl M. Colleges respond to student binge drinking: Reducing student demand or limiting access. Journal of American College Health. 2004;52(4):159-68. Accessed on November 23, 2015
WLC-Student policies - Wisconsin Lutheran College (WLC). Student life policies. Accessed on November 23, 2015

Page Last Updated

May 27, 2014

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