4. Strategies to reduce alcohol-related harm among Tertiary students

There are a number of interventions that are effective in reducing alcohol-related harm among tertiary students.

In brief, strategies can be grouped into those which

  1. control the availability and accessibility of alcohol (supply control)
  2. encourage reduced alcohol use (demand reduction)
  3. reduce the problems stemming from the use of alcohol (problem limitation).

Supply control - strategies to control the availability of alcohol

  • Restrict trading hours of licensed premises;
  • Limit number or density of alcohol outlets near campus areas (object to liquor licences - see here);
  • Advocate to increase the price of alcohol (e.g. through alcohol tax or minimum unit pricing);
  • Implement total or partial alcohol bans on campus (e.g. campus alcohol policies or local government bylaws);
  • Prohibit alcohol use/sale at campus events;
  • Restrict price promotions (campus or community agreement for a policy to prevent alcohol brands that encourage students to drink more than they would normally);

Demand reduction

  • Advocate to raise the minimum legal purchase age to 20 years;
  • Restrict alcohol advertising and sponsorship - for example in campus publications (see here);
  • Conduct campus-wide social norms campaign;
  • Require labelling on alcohol products;
  • Implement community-based healthy university approaches.

Problem limitation

  • Implement host-responsibility programmes in licensed premises or encourage hosts of parties to be responsible hosts;
  • Implement brief interventions for alcohol-related problems for students.

Community-based programmes should emphasise collaboration between students, tertiary institutions and the wider community. The following approaches are useful:

  • Whole-of setting approach – see The Okanagan Charter for health promoting universities
    • Action 1 - embed health into all aspects of campus culture, across the administration, operations and academic mandates;
    • Action 2 - Lead health promotion action and collaboration locally and globally;
  •  Develop a comprehensive strategic action plan with key stakeholders;
  • Identify environmental-level strategies and select multiple best-evidence interventions, this includes:
    • Campus alcohol policies, substance-free halls of residence, ban on alcohol ad in student newspapers, etc;
  • Evaluate interventions and report the findings.

Please also check out the Case Study - Campus Watch at the University of Otago. Findings have been published in a peer review paper here.

Other useful information