Jane Brody makes the case that local policies and alcohol sales practices are important contributors to binge drinking:
The Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, which began in 1993, has identified several environmental and community factors that encourage binge drinking. Dr. Wechsler, who directed the study, said in an interview that high-volume alcohol sales, for example, and promotions in bars around campuses encourage drinking to excess.
“Some sell alcohol in large containers, fishbowls and pitchers,” he said. “There are special promotions: women’s nights where the women can drink free; 25-cent beers; two drinks for the price of one; and gut-busters, where people can drink all they want for one price until they have to go to the bathroom. Sites with these kinds of promotions have more binge drinking.
“Price is an issue,” he added. “It can be cheaper to get drunk on the weekend than to go to a movie.”
Although it is a college’s duty to educate students about the effects of alcohol and the risks of drinking too much, “education by itself doesn’t work,” Dr. Wechsler said. “You must attack the supply side as well as the demand side.”
More than half the alcohol outlets surrounding colleges that participated in the Harvard study offered promotions with price discounts, and nearly three-fourths that served alcohol on the premises had price discounts on weekends.
The study found that the sites of heaviest drinking by college students were off-campus bars and parties held off-campus and at fraternity and sorority houses.
However, community policies and business practices can be just as critical in reducing binge drinking:
Community measures that helped to curtail binge drinking during the eight-year course of the study included a limit on alcohol outlets near campus, mandatory training for beverage servers, a crackdown on unlicensed alcohol sales and greater monitoring of alcohol outlets to curtail under-age drinking and excessive consumption by legal drinkers.