The Relationship Between the U.S. State Alcohol Policy Environment and Individuals’ Experience of Secondhand Effects: Alcohol Harms Due to Others’ Drinking
Although restrictive state alcohol policy environments are protective for individuals’ binge alcohol use, research is sparse on the effect of alcohol policies on alcohol’s harms to others (AHTO). The researchers examined the lagged associations between efficacy of U.S. state alcohol policies and number of harms from others’ alcohol use 1 year later.
Individuals with AHTO data in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults (analytic sample n = 26,744) that pooled the 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015 National Alcohol Surveys and a 2015 National Alcohol’s Harm to Others Survey were linked with prior‐year state policy measures. The researchers used 2 measures from the Alcohol Policy Scale (APS), that is effectiveness in reducing
- binge alcohol use and
- impaired driving, based on experts’ efficacy judgments regarding 29 state alcohol policies.
Three 12‐month AHTO measures (due to another alcohol user) were:
- experiencing either family/marriage difficulties or financial troubles;
- being assaulted or vandalized; and
- passenger with driver under the influence of alcohol or traffic accident.
Multilevel models accounting for clustering within states and stratified by age‐groups (<40 vs. ≥40) examined associations between the APS and AHTO measures, controlling for individual covariates (gender, race, education, employment and marital status, family problem‐alcohol use history) of the victim.
Only for those aged <40, the lagged APS‐Binge alcohol use and APS‐Impaired driving scores were each inversely associated with aggression‐related harms and, separately, with DUI‐related harm from someone else’s alcohol use (ps < 0.05 to < 0.01).
Family/financial harms were not associated with APS scores for either age‐group.
Composite AHTO measures (any of 3 harm‐types) also were inversely associated with stronger state alcohol policy environments (ps < 0.05 to <0.01).
State alcohol policies may be effective in reducing, to a meaningful degree, aggression‐related harms and vehicular hazards due to other alcohol users, but mainly in those under 40.
States that enact more restrictive, stronger alcohol policies may be able to drop the level of harm that younger people are experiencing, especially in those jurisdictions that now have weaker, less effective laws,” said lead author Thomas Greenfield, Ph.D., of the Alcohol Research Group, per Medical Express.