The closer teens live to where alcohol is sold, the greater the seeming risk of binge drinking and driving under the influence.
Researchers from the Pardee Rand Graduate School in Santa Monica researched the relationship between proximity to alcohol retailers in zones around homes in California and drinking in children ages 12 to 17. They found an association among homes within walking distance (about half a mile) of places selling alcohol and evidence of binge drinking and driving after drinking.
The study, published online this month in the American Journal of Public Health, also noted that alcohol is more readily available in minority and lower-income areas. In predominantly white neighborhoods, within a half-mile there are an average 5.5 locations with active alcohol licenses. In predominantly African American neighborhoods it's 6.4 locations; in predominantly Latino, 8.6; and in predominantly Asian, 9.5. Researchers point out that living in areas with higher alcohol sales could also mean more exposure to violent crime and drunk driving.
"Our study suggests that living in close proximity to alcohol outlets is a risk factor for youth," write the authors. "In California, retail licenses are not typically approved within 100 feet of a residence or within 600 feet of schools, public playgrounds and nonprofit youth facilities, but proximity by itself is not sufficient to deny a license. . . . More attention on the proximity rule is needed and environmental interventions need to curb opportunities for youth to get alcohol from commercial sources."