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Enhanced Enforcement

Description of Strategy

Enhanced enforcement programs initiate or increase the frequency of enforcement of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug related regulations. One common type of enhanced enforcement is an increase in retailer compliance checks for laws against the sale of alcohol or tobacco to minors in a community. Retailer compliance checks, or “sting operations,” are conducted by or coordinated with local law enforcement or alcohol beverage control agencies. Violators receive legal or administrative sanctions. In addition, enhanced enforcement programs can be conducted as part of multi-component, community-based efforts. Enhanced enforcement programs may include strategies to increase perceived risk of detection by publicizing the increased enforcement activities and cautioning proprietors against selling alcohol or tobacco to minors. For example, a media campaign may publicize the presence of a mobile alcohol command unit to deter drunk driving (Guide to Community Preventive Services, 2006).

Also known as...

Developing an "alcohol unit" for law enforcement, alcohol enforcement/education team (AET)

Discussion of Effectiveness


Systematic reviews (Guide to Community Preventive Services, 2006; University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, 2017) found strong evidence that enhanced enforcement of laws that prohibit alcohol sales to minors reduces retail sales to minors but concluded that further research is need to determine the effect on underage drinking. A 2012 study found that a multi-component intervention that included enhanced enforcement did not reduce adolescents' odds to initiate weekly drinking but did reduce risk to initiate drunkenness among adolescents who were already weekly drinkers (Schelleman-Offermans, Knibbe, Kuntsche, & Casswell, 2012). Evidence suggests enhanced enforcement is effective as part of a multi-component college campus strategy to reduce underage drinking (Saltz, Welker, Paschall, Feeney, & Fabiano, 2009; Weitzman, Nelson, Hang, & Wechsler, 2004).


A systematic review of interventions for preventing tobacco sales to minors found active enforcement reduced the rate of tobacco sales to minors. The effectiveness of active enforcement is reduced when it is implemented less than four to six times a year (Stead & Lan-caster, 2005). A 2001 systematic review found insufficient evidence to support enhanced enforcement as an effective strategy for reducing youth access to tobacco (Guide to Community Preventive Services, 2001).

Prescription & Other Drugs

No studies were found that specifically evaluated the effectiveness of enhanced enforcement on outcomes related to other drug use.