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Ending Unsafe Alcohol Retail Practices Can Stop Underage Drinking Before It Starts

Underage consumption of alcohol is both a strong predictor of problematic alcohol use later in life and the major influence on the leading causes of preventable death among adolescents: motor vehicle collisions, suicide, and homicide. Among high school students in California’s Marin County, underage alcohol use remains high. 63% of high school seniors report having ever drank alcohol, 40% drinking within the last 30 days, and nearly 1 in 3 having either driven while intoxicated or been in a car with an intoxicated driver. Environmental prevention strategies target the availability, desirability, and normalization of alcohol at the community level, in particular retail stores that sell alcohol. These strategies are demonstrably effective in reducing underage use, but are not aggressively pursued in San Rafael.

Alcohol Justice assessed all San Rafael alcohol retail outlets in 2021 for their compliance with the “Best Practices for Stores that Sell Alcohol” standards. According to this analysis, high-risk retail environments were present in a quarter of 44 retail stores in San Rafael, California. These stores neglect community safety and accountability, promote alcohol accessibility and normalization, and stock products that research has identified as particularly appealing to novice drinkers. Previous efforts to promote environmental prevention in San Rafael culminated in the Alcopop-Free Zone campaign, which concentrated on the San Rafael Canal District. In light of the continued red flags in the city, a successor campaign—Youth Action for Safe Stores (YASS)—aims to use community and youth mobilization to address environ-mental issues in stores throughout the city. Better alcohol retail environments can reduce both access to alcohol and intention to drink, saving lives and establishing a stable, healthy path for young people

Reposted from Alcohol Justice with permission

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