Enhanced enforcement of laws prohibiting alcohol sales to minors

Evidence Rating  
Scientifically Supported
Evidence rating: Scientifically Supported

Strategies with this rating are most likely to make a difference. These strategies have been tested in many robust studies with consistently positive results.

Health Factors  
Decision Makers

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 sanctions1.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced underage alcohol purchases

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • 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 minors1, 2. Such enforcement also appears to reduce underage alcohol consumption13. 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 communities1. 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 server2.

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

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 minors4.


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1 CG-Alcohol - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Excessive alcohol consumption.

2 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.

3 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.

4 NACCHO-Baltimore alcohol - National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO). Campus community initiative of the combating underage drinking coalition.

Date Last Updated