Unintended consequences and professional ethics: criminalization of alcohol and tobacco use by youth and young adults

Addiction. 1997 Sep;92(9):1159-64.


This paper describes how widespread legal changes appear to have affected law enforcement practices concerning youth tobacco and alcohol use in the United States. We argue that the threat of criminalization was seldom addressed in scientific and public policy discussions of the drinking age, and only sporadically addressed in discussions of measures to regulate youth access to tobacco. We argue that unintended consequences are an important ethical issue for professionals involved in advocating, developing, implementing and evaluating public policy concerning substance abuse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Crime
  • Criminal Law*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • United States