The Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act (STOP Act) calls for the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit an annual Report to Congress reviewing the consequences of underage drinking along with Federal and State policies aimed at preventing and reducing the problem behavior. The HHS most recently submitted the 2012 Report to Congress on Underage Drinking Prevention and Reduction, highlighting findings from prevention research, initiatives, and collaborations conducted across the country.Issues: Underage drinking
As with any group formation involving multiple parties, backgrounds and opinions, coalition unification can be a challenging feat. Though members of coalitions join for the shared goal of creating safe and drug-free communities, contrasting personalities and experiences sometimes result in conflict, inhibiting coalition progress. In this instance, members view differences with other members as incompatible for successful collective efforts. A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Calgary identified four crucial factors for helping organizations facilitate effective community collaboration.
Decades of research strongly support Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) as an effective means for identifying and reducing unhealthy alcohol use and related consequences among adults. More recent explorations into the use of SBI for children and adolescents indicate similar benefits and in 2010 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that health care providers of children and adolescents conduct screening for alcohol, tobacco and other drug use during all office visits. A recent study using a national survey of students in the 10th grade found that a significant number of health care providers do not follow these guidelines as recommended. This research highlights the need to engage in local efforts to educate and support practitioners in providing screening and brief intervention for all of their patients.
In the United States, smoking remains the leading cause of premature mortality and alcohol consumption the third-leading cause of mortality. Not only does the concurrent use of cigarettes and alcohol increase risks for certain cancers, but also makes it more difficult to quit either substance. Since concurrent use of tobacco and alcohol is very common among young adults, they are often the focus of aggressive tobacco promotional efforts. A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health demonstrates that many tobacco companies not only research the link between these two products, but also use this knowledge to develop marketing strategies that reinforce concurrent use of alcohol and tobacco.
In the United States, alcohol use remains widespread among college students. Their high-risk drinking produces a number of “second-hand” dangerous consequences not only to the drinker, but also to other individuals, including interruption of sleep and study, verbal harassment, assault, and degradation of the on-campus environment. Since college drinking involves environmental factors, current research suggests coalitions need to consider methods focusing on both the campus and the community environment to reduce alcohol use and alcohol-related problems. To expand existing research, a research team led by Dr. Mark Wolfson at Wake Forest School of Medicine conducted the Study to Prevent Alcohol Related Consequences (SPARC), which used community organizing to develop and implement environmental strategies on college campuses and the surrounding communities.Issues: College Drinking
Current research suggests that small community environments proximal, or near in location, to an adolescent’s residence are most important to coalitions serving rural communities covering large geographic areas. However, much of the prior research concentrated on understanding adolescent problem behaviors at the individual-level in rural settings or community-level factors in urban settings. A recent study conducted by the Prevention Research Center at Pennsylvania State University, which investigated the association between tobacco and alcohol retailers, youth-serving organizations, and problem behaviors in rural communities, suggests that characteristics of the proximal community environment predict youth problem behavior.
Driving while under the influence presents serious public health problems and, since more than half of all self-reported binge-drinking episodes occur in a bar or restaurant, it is critical to address the overservice of alcohol, an environmental factor contributing to this behavior. Current research suggests implementing alcohol control policies to reduce alcohol-related harms connected to the overservice of alcoholic beverages in on-premises alcohol outlets. A recent study conducted by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that dram shop liability laws help prevent motor vehicle crashes, though more research is needed to better understand the effects of enhanced enforcement of overservice laws.
In the United States annually, excessive alcohol consumption accounts for an average of 79,000 deaths and 2.3 million years of potential life lost, making it the third-leading preventable cause of death in the country. This serious public health problem carries a heavy economic burden and causes a number of adverse health and social consequences, including premature death, increases in disease and injury, property damage from fire and motor vehicle crashes, alcohol-related crime, and lost productivity. In 1998, researchers estimated that excessive alcohol consumption cost the United States $184.6 billion each year. According to a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the cost of excessive alcohol consumption grew to 223.5 billion in 2006, with binge drinking accounting for over 75% of the total economic cost.
Passing and adopting local policies poses numerous challenges and barriers to community coalitions. While a number of research articles currently examine the legislative process and details of policy enactment, very few discuss the process of local policy adoption and the issues organizations tackle in trying to assure passage of local ordinances. In order to understand the process of adopting and implementing local policies, researchers Travis D. Satterland, Diana Cassady, Jeanette Treiber, and Cathy Lemp at the University of California Davis analyzed the major barriers and challenges associated with the California Tobacco Control Program (CTCP) and its local projects that attempted to pass outdoor smoke-free ordinances. The researchers found that political polarization, local political orientation and organizational barriers presented the greatest challenges to local CTCP projects.Issues: Smoking
Currently, a number of studies identify waterpipe tobacco smoking, most commonly known as hookah, as an emerging trend among college students in the United States. However, the substance abuse field lacks evidence about the factors associated with the spread of waterpipe smoking in this population, such as perception of harm and commercial availability and use. In response to the lack of research, researchers Sutfin, E.L., et al. at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center conducted one of the first studies investigating the prevalence of waterpipe tobacco smoke use among a large, multi-institution sample of college students. The study found that waterpipe smoking is nearly as popular with college students as cigarettes, particularly at institutions with nearby waterpipe smoking venues and among freshmen.Issues: Smoking