Relationships between social host policies, youth drinking contexts, and age

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Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs







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Objective: We examined associations of city-level policies and enforcement operations (i.e., social host laws and party patrol operations) with youth drinking, heavy drinking, and drinking-related problems in private and public drinking contexts. We also examined whether these associations were modified by age. Method: We surveyed 580 youth (ages 16-20 years; 53% male) living in 24 midsized California cities. We used mixed-effects negative binomial and logistic regression to calculate the frequency of youth drinking and heavy drinking and odds of drinking-related problems in each context (own home, friend’s home, restaurant, bar, music venue, and outdoors). Results: There were positive associations between more comprehensive city-level social host policies and frequency of youth drinking and heavy drinking at music venues, and youth heavy drinking and drinking-related problems at restaurants. Younger youth who lived in cities with more comprehensive social host laws drank heavily less frequently in their own home than younger youth living in cities with less comprehensive social host laws. Youth ages 17 or under who lived in cities with more party patrol enforcement had higher odds of problems related to drinking outdoors in the past 12 months than those in cities with fewer party patrol operations. Conclu-sions: City-level alcohol policies and enforcement targeting underage drinking may have differential effects depending on youth drinking contexts and age. Comprehensive social host policies, which aim to decrease drinking in private contexts, may displace or increase youth drinking in other contexts, such as restaurants and music venues. Comprehensive social host policies and party patrol operations may be more influential for younger youth drinking in their own home or outdoors.

Funding Sponsor

National Institutes of Health


Social Work