Alcohol Education Guide
to Reducing Harmful Drinking

Border Binge-Drinking Reduction Program



Implementer: The Institute for Public Strategies (formerly the Institute for Health Advocacy)

Partners: Funding from San Diego County, Health and Human Services Agency, Alcohol and Drug Services Department and the state of California; evaluation conducted in partnership with The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE)

Program Overview: The Operation Safe Crossing program aimed to reduce cross-border binge drinking and related problem behavior in San Diego, California by reducing cross-border binge drinking in Tijuana Mexico.

Program Design: San Diego recognized a problem with binge drinking due to the fact that young people often cross the border into Mexico to consume alcohol because of the lower and less strictly enforced drinking age. In order to address this problem a media campaign was developed and implemented in San Diego. The media campaign was used to support plans for improvements in enforcement efforts in Tijuana serving establishments, as well as at the border crossing location; to encourage retailers to properly train staff in responsible hospitality; and to educate the public on risk associated with cross-border drinking.

Evaluation: Data were collected from June 1997- May 1998 Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from midnight to 4 am, in order to assess changes in outcomes as campaign media coverage increased.

Key findings1Increases in campaign media coverage were associated with statistically significantly changes in the number of youth crossing into Tijuana to drink and the number of youth crossing the border from Tijuana with a high BAC.

  • The campaign was associated with 31.6% reduction in the number of youth crossing the border between midnight and 4 am.
  • Over the same time period the number of pedestrians and underage drinking pedestrians crossing the border from Tijuana with a BAC of 0.08 or higher declined by 29 and 39.8%, respectively.


1. Lange, J. B., Lauer, E. M., & Voas, R. B. (1999). A survey of the San Diego-Tijuana cross-border binging: Methods and analysis. Evaluation Review, 23(4), pp. 378-398.

2. Romano, E., Cano, S., Lauer, E., Jimenez, A., Voas, R. B., & Lange, J. E. (2004). Tijuana alcohol control policies: A response to cross-border high-risk drinking by young Americans. Prevention Science, 5(2), 127-134.

Target Audience: Adults of legal drinking age, University/young adults (18-21 years)
Issues: Heavy Episodic or Binge Drinking, Underage Drinking
Setting: Licensed premises, Local government/ law enforcement departments, Media (including social media)
Approach: Community or Environmental
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