Underage college students' drinking behavior, access to alcohol, and the influence of deterrence policies: Findings from the harvard school of public health college alcohol study

Henry Wechsler, Jae Eun Lee, Toben F. Nelson, Meichun Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

225 Scopus citations

Abstract

Underage drinking is a major problem at American colleges, but little is known about the extent of alcohol use in different student groups, in different colleges, and in states with different control policies. We used data from the 2001 and 3 previous Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Studies that compared responses of underage students with those of their 21-23-year-old peers. Underage students drank alcohol less frequently but were more likely to drink to excess when they drank. College educational efforts and deterrent policies were limited in their outreach, and half of underage students obtained alcohol very easily. Underage students in states with extensive laws restricting underage and high-volume drinking were less likely to drink and to binge drink. A majority of underage students supported increasing efforts to control underage drinking. The results suggest that additional policy efforts to control underage dnnking may be effective and feasible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-236
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American College Health Association
Volume50
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2002
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Dr Hang Lee for expert statistical consultation, the Center for Sur- vey Research of the University of Massachusetts-Boston and Dr Anthony M. Roman for conducting the mail survey, Jeff Hansen for the preparation of the data, and Mark Seibring for technical assistance.

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Automobile accidents
  • Binge drinking
  • Minimum legal drinking age
  • Underage drinking

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