Controlling Underage Drinking: Fear of Law Enforcement or Internalized Normative Values?Journal: Journal of Addiction & Prevention (Vol.1, No. 2)
Publication Date: 2013-12-30
Background: Previous research on alcohol control policies has generally taken a deterrence perspective. Whether internalized normative values, consistent with the changes intended by alcohol policies, were a potential base for securing public compliance with them has received little research attention. To fill this gap, this study examined whether under age young adult’s support for underage drinking laws was associated with their alcohol use. Methods: National Alcohol Surveys (NAS) data collected in 1995-2005 were used. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted. Covariates included: sex, race, education level, household income, positive alcohol expectancies, the perceived likelihood of law enforcement, and the availability and affordability of alcohol. Results: Controlling for other covariates, support for underage drinking laws was significantly associated with some drinking outcomes. Underage young adults who were not supportive of the minimum legal drinking age law were more likely to engage in frequent binge drinking (OR=3.08) and drinking driving (OR=4.17), and to have initiated drinking at age 16 or younger (OR=2.37). Those who indicated a lower degree of support for the zero-tolerance drunk driving law had higher odds of drinking driving (OR=4.36), as well as higher odds of having ever had alcohol (OR=5.46), current drinking (OR=5.36), and having initiated drinking at the age of 16 or younger (OR=3.09). The perceived likelihood of law enforcement was protective only from frequent binge drinking (OR=0.09). Conclusion: A clear articulation of potential harms associated with underage drinking to help legitimize underage drinking laws, along with their rigorous enforcement, may help reduce underage drinking.
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