Would a stronger alcohol use policy in your community make a difference in reducing youth alcohol use?
Pediatrics, The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, recently released the results of a study suggesting that the answer to this question is “Yes!”
Here’s their conclusion from state-level data (across the US):
“Stronger alcohol policies, including those that do not target youth specifically, are related to a reduced likelihood of youth alcohol consumption. These findings suggest that efforts to reduce youth drinking should incorporate population-based policies to reduce excessive drinking among adults as part of a comprehensive approach to preventing alcohol-related harms.”
So what can you do?
Examine your local town policies or ordinances around public alcohol use. Does your community have a policy about where alcohol can be used in public places? Are the spaces where kidsgather protected with a strong no alcohol policy, ordinance, or law? Does your community restrict outlet density or the placement of alcohol signage at local markets? How do you find this out? ASK! Go to your local Town Office and ask what policies your town has in place around alcohol use.
Does your town have strong policies?
If your town does have strong alcohol use policies, you are fortunate. – Many Vermont towns do not have policies restricting public alcohol use, in fact one local community allowsalcohol use on school grounds during non-school events… umm?
If your town’s policies are relatively weak – don’t despair. It often only takes a few concerned residents to create change. Gather your friends and those who are concerned about creating a nurturing community where adults choose to model healthy personal choices. Modeling by adults influences youth to do the same. Don’t forget to include youth – they have an amazing perspective that policy makers often take note of! It all starts with conversations and a desire for something to be different – something better.
There is support for helping you throughthe process of working with your local government or school. The Lamoille County Planning Commission recently created a Primer onPlanning for Prevention which looks at policies around the country and shares sample language that communities can adopt in their town plans, specifically around preventing youth alcohol use. Healthy Lamoille Valley staff can connect you to this and other resources. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
So take that first step – find out what policies are in place in your community!
Photo: JSC Upward Bound – Youth making a difference! – Summer 2015