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What We Have Learned From the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study: Focusing Attention on College Student Alcohol Consumption and the Environmental Conditions That Promote It

Henry Wechsler, Toben F Nelson

The Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study surveyed students at a nationally representative sample of 4-year colleges in the United States four times between 1993 and 2001. More than 50,000 students at 120 colleges took part in the study. This article reviews what we have learned about college drinking and the implications for prevention: the need to focus on lower drink thresholds, the harms produced at this level of drinking for the drinkers, the secondhand effects experienced by other students and neighborhood residents, the continuing extent of the problem, and the role of the college alcohol environment in promoting heavy drinking by students. In particular, the roles of campus culture, alcohol control policies, enforcement of policies, access, availability, pricing, marketing, and special promotions of alcohol are highlighted. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs 69: 481-490, 2008)