Alcohol Environments and Disparities in Exposure Associated with Adolescent Drinking in California

Published In: American Journal of Public Health, v. 99, no. 2, Feb. 1, 2009, p. 264-270

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2008

by Khoa Dang Truong, Roland Sturm

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OBJECTIVES: The authors investigated sociodemographic disparities in alcohol environments and their relationship with adolescent drinking. METHODS: The authors geocoded and mapped alcohol license data with ArcMap to construct circular buffers centered at 14595 households with children that participated in the California Health Interview Survey. They calculated commercial sources of alcohol in each buffer. Multivariate logistic regression differentiated the effects of alcohol sales on adolescentsgas drinking from their individual, family, and neighborhood characteristics. RESULTS: Alcohol availability, measured by mean and median number of licenses, was significantly higher around residences of minority and lower-income families. Binge drinking and driving after drinking among adolescents aged 12 to 17 years were significantly associated with the presence of alcohol retailers within 0.5 miles of home. Simulation of changes in the alcohol environment showed that if alcohol sales were reduced from the mean number of alcohol outlets around the lowest-income quartile of households to that of the highest quartile, prevalence of binge drinking would fall from 6.4% to 5.6% and driving after drinking from 7.9% to 5.9%. CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol outlets are concentrated in disadvantaged neighborhoods and can contribute to adolescent drinking.

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