What Others Are Doing With Effective Prevention Strategies



Prevention Strategies:











States and localities

are employing many prevention strategies to tackle the underage drinking


  • Minnesota

    recently passed new legislation that strengthens advocates’ ability

    to limit youth access to alcohol.

  • California

    has implemented a program to discourage adults from buying alcohol for


  • Kentucky

    uses the “Cops in Shops” initiative to publicize and strengthen

    its enforcement efforts.


Health advocates in

Minnesota are pleased with the outcome of the 1999 legislative session

that ended in May 1999. Two important regulations were passed that community

groups and public health and law enforcement agencies can use to fight

underage drinking. Community groups, including the Minnesota

Join Together Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking, were involved

in advocating for these bills.

First, Minnesota’s

Omnibus Crime Bill provided first-time funding to help local authorities

conduct compliance checks of establishments selling alcohol to insure

they do not sell alcohol to minors. The Minnesota Department of Public

Safety’s Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (AGED) will distribute

$150,000 in grants to local enforcement agencies to help pay for the costs

of conducting alcohol compliance checks.

Second, Minnesota

legislature passed a bill that makes it a felony to give alcohol to minors

who become drunk and are involved in an injury-causing or deadly accident.

Previously, only non-commercial adults who sold alcohol to youth in these

situations could face felony charges. The bill, known as the “Brockway

Bill,” came in response to a request from Tom Brockway of St. Paul,

whose 16-year-old son, Kevin, was killed in a 1997 New Year’s Eve crash

after leaving a party. At the time, prosecutors could charge the man who

provided alcohol to Brockway’s son only with a gross misdemeanor.

Both of these regulations

are useful tools for reducing youth access to alcohol. The Training Center

recommends routine, comprehensive compliance checks as a key strategy

for deterring commercial alcohol sales to minors. Research on compliance

checks has found this strategy sharply reduces illegal sales to minors.

(See Regulatory Strategies for Preventing Youth Access to Alcohol).

For more information

on these Minnesota regulations, contact Jeff Nachbar at Minnesota Join

Together Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking, 612-427-5310, E-mail:

[email protected]


In June 1999, the

Los Angeles Police Department announced it will be conducting undercover

“Shoulder Tap” operations that target adults who furnish alcoholic

beverages to people under age 21. The California Department of Alcoholic

Beverage Control (ABC) is funding the police department’s activities.

The initiative involves the use of a minor as a decoy, who, under the

direct supervision of a police officer, will ask adults to purchase alcoholic

beverages for him or her. “These operations are designed to reduce

the number of deaths and injuries due to teen drunk driving. Furnishing

alcohol to a minor is a serious offense,” said ABC Director Jay Stroh.

Under this California

law that became effective in January 1998, an adult who furnishes alcohol

to a minor faces a $1,000 fine and a minimum 24 hours of community service.

Furthermore, any adult who furnishes alcohol to a minor who then injures

or kills him or herself or anyone else faces a minimum 6 months in the

county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both imprisonment and a fine.

The Shoulder Tap program helps publicize the seriousness of providing

alcohol to a minor.

Recent “Shoulder

Tap” operations conducted in California’s Wilshire and West Valley

Areas found that between 50 and 60 percent of adults who are approached

outside local liquor and convenience stores will accommodate a minor’s

request for an alcoholic beverage.

The Training Center

recommends implementing strategies to limit noncommercial sources of alcohol

to youth, including the “Shoulder Tap” program. The Training

Center also suggests informing retailers about the practice of shoulder

tapping by youth. Retailers who witness a shoulder-tapping incident should

report it to appropriate law enforcement officials. Further responsible

beverage service programs should include “shoulder-tapping prevention”

as a retailer responsibility.

Source: “Police

initiative targets adults giving alcohol to minors,” 6/18/99. Join

Together Online

More information about the CA ABC: http://www.abc.ca.gov/


During September 1999,

Kentucky’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) implemented

the “Cops in Shops” program to generate publicity about underage

drinking and the enforcement of minimum alcohol purchase age laws. The

“Cops in Shops” initiative is an undercover operation, in which

law enforcement officers pose as clerks at liquor and convenience stories.

In Kentucky, the officers concentrated their efforts in college towns.

The program was publicized

on local news media, which educated citizens about the program and warned

underage drinkers to stay away from the liquor stores. But even so, in

one night, law enforcement officers arrested and cited almost 200 minors

and legally drunk adults who were attempting to purchase alcohol.

The Kentucky ABC began

the program in 1995 to publicize its enforcement programs and let underage

drinkers and merchants know it means business. Over the past 4 years,

the program has grown from 14 to 22 counties. In its first year, “Cops

in Shops” needed 1,019 citations and arrests. That number has dropped

through the years, even as more counties have joined the program.

The Training Center

recommends that States utilize the “Cops in Shops” program as

only one piece of a comprehensive enforcement plan. The program is often

a good method to establish a working relationship with retailers and is

useful in targeting retail outlets popular with minors. The Kentucky ABC

uses other enforcement strategies as well to complement “Cops in

Shops”. It also performs compliance checks with undercover minors

who attempt to purchase alcohol.


Is your organization implementing an effective strategy to prevent underage

drinking? If so, consider sharing your story with others on the Training

Center Web site. Contact [email protected] with




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