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Reducing access to alcohol for young people under age 18


A research partnership between Deakin University and CTC Ltd. is developing and testing an intervention to check retailer compliance with minimum age laws for alcohol sales. Purchase attempts are monitored for a young person who looks to be under the legal age for alcohol purchase. Retailers receive information about the purchase attempt and the law.

This strategy is supported through media stories and public information. In subsequent years the strategy may be expanded to discourage other community practices that increase the availability to minors including secondary supply (adults buying and providing alcohol to minors), and the promotion of child-friendly alcohol products such as the discounting of alcopops (premixed sweetened alcohol products).

Evaluation Evidence

Evidence shows that enforcement of liquor laws can increase compliance with minimum age laws. A US intervention to increase retailer compliance with underage sales laws used a strategy of compliance checks coupled with media advocacy to deter retailers from selling alcohol to minors (Scribner & Cohen, 2001). The evaluation found substantial gains in compliance (51%) among retailers who were issued with citations for failing compliance checks, as well as gains in compliance for those who had not been cited (35%).

Monitoring Recommendations

  • CTC Ltd. is currently introducing a monitoring program.
  • Boards can apply to participate in the monitoring program to receive information on the number of test purchase visits conducted in their locality and the outcomes.
  • The effectiveness of the strategy can be evaluated by monitoring youth reports of supply sources for underage alcohol use.

Mr Bosco Rowland School of Psychology Deakin University

(03) 5227 8278
Program details
Target Audience: 
11 - 17 years
Target Risk Factors: 
  • Community disorganisation
  • Perceived availability of drugs (alcohol)
  • Laws and norms favourable to drug use
Community Indicators: 
  • Alcohol sales to young people under age 18
  • High rates of youth alcohol use