The ability of young people to purchase alcohol without age identification in northeastern Minnesota, USA


Dr Jean L. Forster, Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 South Second Street, Suite300;Minneapolis, MN55454-1015, USA.


The purpose of this study was to determine the rate at which young people can purchase alcohol without age identification in off-premises businesses, and the factors which influence the rate of purchase. All retail outlets licensed to sell distilled spirits and/or full strength beer and wine in 28 northern Minnesota communities were visited on different occasions by three 21-year-old female buyers who appeared to be aged 19 or younger. These youthful buyers were able to purchase beer without age identification in 47% of the 336 purchase attempts. Almost four-fifths of the businesses sold beer to these buyers at least once in three attempts. These results provide clear evidence that many commercial off-sale businesses in the US supply alcohol to youthful buyers, and that practices vary significantly by community and by business. These results support the need for greater attention to availability as a factor in teenage drinking patterns.