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Comparative Study
. 2015;36(3):289-96.
doi: 10.1080/08897077.2014.937516. Epub 2014 Aug 1.

Local Support for Alcohol Control Policies and Perceptions of Neighborhood Issues in Two College Communities

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Comparative Study

Local Support for Alcohol Control Policies and Perceptions of Neighborhood Issues in Two College Communities

Anne M Fairlie et al. Subst Abus. .
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Abstract

Background: Although valuable, national opinion surveys on alcohol policy may be less informative for policy development at the local level. Using samples of adult residents in 2 college communities, the present study: (1) measured public support for local alcohol control policies to stem underage drinking and alcohol overservice in on-premise outlets, (2) assessed residents' opinions regarding neighborhood problems, and (3) identified factors associated with strong policy support.

Methods: We administered random-sample telephone surveys to residents aged 21 years and older in college communities located in Community 1 (N = 501; mean age = 57.4 years, SD = 14.7) and Community 2 (N = 505; mean age = 56.0 years, SD = 15.2). The response rates were typical of telephone surveys (Community 1: 33.5%; Community 2: 29.9%). We assessed support for 16 alcohol control policies and the occurrence of specific types of neighborhood incidents (e.g., witnessing intoxicated people). We used multiple regression analyses to determine factors associated with policy support.

Results: Residents in Community 1 reported significantly higher weekly alcohol use, a greater number of witnessed neighborhood incidents, and a higher level of perceived neighborhood problems than did residents in Community 2. Residents in Community 1 perceived local alcohol control policies and their enforcement to be significantly stricter. Overall, policy support was high and did not differ between the communities. In both communities, higher policy support was significantly associated with being female, being older, less weekly alcohol use, and lower perceived strictness of alcohol control policies and enforcement.

Conclusions: It is important for campus officials and community leaders to be aware of and publicize favorable public opinion when advocating for policy change, especially at the local level. Information on residents' perceptions of the neighborhood issues they face can also inform local policy and enforcement efforts.

Keywords: Alcohol control; college students; public policy.

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