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tion between underage and adult drinking. Of special importance in this effort are parents, the alcohol industry, schools and other institutions that are responsible for adolescents, the media, and the entertainment industry.

  • Although governments at all levels have an indispensable role to play in creating this boundary and in supporting actions to reduce underage drinking, voluntary initiatives taken by individuals and nongovernmental institutions are also of great importance.

  • Although underage drinking is a national problem, and it must be addressed by the nation, much of the initiative must arise, and much of the work be accomplished, at the community level.


The preeminent goal of the recommended strategy is to animate and sustain a broad commitment to reduce underage drinking. Many actors can play important roles. Retail outlets and bars can reduce opportunities for young people to obtain and use alcohol. Parents and other adults can refrain from conduct that tends to encourage or facilitate underage drinking and use their authority and credibility to guide their children’s choices about alcohol. Others who stand in the position of responsibility vis-à-vis young people—schools, landlords, employers with young employees, military commanders, and other community organization and business leaders—can contribute in a variety of ways to the community effort to prevent underage drinking and its associated harms.

Underage alcohol use, as we have said, is a pervasive problem. It follows, then, that numerous individuals and organizations are in a position to try to do something about it. Figure 5-1 depicts a schematic diagram depicting opportunities for intervention. Opportunities for effectuating a collective commitment can be sorted into three broad domains:

  • Opportunities to reduce the availability of alcohol to underage drinkers (or to avoid practices that tend to increase availability).

  • Opportunities to reduce the occasions and opportunities for underage drinking (or to avoid practices that tend to facilitate drinking opportunities).

  • Opportunities to reduce the demand for alcohol among young people (or to avoid practices that tend to increase demand).


The major actors in any effort to reduce underage access to alcohol are the people and businesses engaged in the commercial production and distribution of alcohol: producers and importers of alcoholic beverages, whole-

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