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How To Use Local Regulatory and Land Use Powers To Prevent Underage Drinking

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2013
10 pages
This paper explains how local governments can counter underage alcohol consumption through land-use zoning that specifies were alcohol may be sold or consumed as well as how it is distributed and marketed.
Local zoning ordinances specify which land uses require a conditional use permit (CUP), and they mandate a public notice and hearing process in order to identify potential negative impacts and set conditions intended to mitigate these negative impacts. An important aspect of the CUP requirement is that municipalities may revoke the CUP should the required conditions be violated. Zoning regulations can be used to reduce the accessibility of alcoholic beverage to underage youth. This can be done by restricting the location/number of commercial alcohol outlets; restricting the type of commercial alcohol outlets; requiring commercial alcohol outlets to use responsible serving/sales practices; and restricting minors' access to non-commercial sources of alcohol. This paper also outlines promotion regulations that can be used to reduce minor' exposure to alcohol advertising/promotions; product regulation that can reduce minors' exposure to alcohol marketing that encourages over-consumption or appeals that target youth; and price regulations that can be used to deter discounting and increase the cost of alcohol beverages to minors. Best practices are presented for implementing a comprehensive use of local regulatory land-use policies to reduce the appeal of and access to alcoholic beverages for underage youth. Examples of existing land-use regulatory systems are provided. Multiple listings for additional information