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Second-hand drinking may increase support for alcohol policies: New results from the 2010 National Alcohol Survey



Introduction and Aims

The harms of second-hand smoke motivated tobacco control legislation. Documenting the effects of harms from others' drinking might increase popular and political will for enacting alcohol policies. We investigated the individual-level relationship between having experienced such harms and favouring alcohol policy measures, adjusting for other influences.

Design and Methods

We used the landline sample (n = 6957) of the 2010 National Alcohol Survey, a computer-assisted telephone interview survey based on a random household sample in the USA. Multivariable regression models adjusted for personal characteristics, including drinking pattern (volume and heavy drinking), were used to investigate the ability of six harms from others' drinking to predict a three-item measure of favour for stronger alcohol policies.


Adjusting for demographics and drinking pattern, number of harms from others' drinking predicted support for alcohol policies (P < 0.001). In a similar model, family- and aggression-related harms, riding with a drink driver and being concerned about another's drinking all significantly influenced favour for stronger alcohol policy.


Although cross-sectional data cannot prove a causal influence or directionality, the association found is consistent with the hypothesis that experiencing harms from others' drinking (experienced by a majority) makes one more likely to favour alcohol policies. Other things equal, women, racial/ethnic minorities, lower-income individuals and lighter drinkers tend to be more supportive of alcohol controls and policies.


Studies that estimate the impact of harms from other drinkers on those victimised are important and now beginning. Next we need to learn how such information could affect decision makers and legislators.