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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Social Hosting Laws Curb Underage Drinking

A new study has found that in areas where strict social hosting laws exist, teenagers are less likely to consume alcohol at parties. Social hosting laws are measures taken in communities to curb underage drinking by holding adults responsible if teens drink on their property. Parents can be held responsible for teenage drinking even if they claim they were unaware the drinking was occurring, reports Business Standard.

Researchers from the Prevention Research Center in Oakland, California examined 50 communities in California, half of which had social hosting laws. The findings showed that teens in communities that had strict social hosting laws were less likely to say they drank at parties.

“It does look like there is less-frequent drinking among teenagers in cities with stringent social host laws, even when other city and youth characteristics that are related to underage drinking are controlled for,” said lead researcher Mallie Paschall in a news release. “So these laws might be an effective strategy for reducing hazardous drinking.” Paschall points out that, “Most kids get alcohol from social sources, not commercial ones.”

Adults can incur stiff civil penalties for providing alcohol to teens or by giving teenagers a safe haven to consume alcohol, according to the report. The penalties usually come in the form of large fines, which are quickly administered, Paschall said. In some communities, however, police are unwilling to enforce social hosting laws, either from lack of support from the public or from the local prosecutor’s office.

In the future, the researchers will look at the rates of teen drinking before and after social hosting laws are passed. They will also look at the effect social hosting laws have on teenage drunk driving.

The findings are published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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