Complying with the Minimum Drinking Age


The Complying with the Minimum Drinking Age project (CMDA) is a community trial testing effects of two interventions designed to reduce alcohol sales to minors:

  • Training for management of retail alcohol establishments, and
  • Enforcement checks of alcohol establishments.

One hundred and nineteen intervention-community (38% of all) establishments received a free, one-on-one 2-hour training program called Alcohol Risk Management Express (ARM Express). ARM Express wants to encourage the owner or manager to select and implement up to 19 model alcohol policies and practices, which are designed to create an operational and normative environment that supports responsible service of alcohol. We also offered these establishments a 1-hour booster session (to review recommended alcohol policies and update resource materials), with 96 (31%) of the establishments participating in the booster training (81% of those that had participated in the initial training session). A second, deterrence-based intervention involved enforcement checks (youth under age 21 attempting to purchase alcohol from licensed establishments) by local law enforcement.The evaluation found that enforcement checks prevented alcohol sales to minors. At the intensity levels tested, enforcement primarily affected specific establishments checked, with limited diffusion to the whole community. Finally, most of the enforcement effect decayed within 3 months, suggesting that a regular schedule of enforcement would be necessary to maintain deterrence.