Local Alcohol Policy (PAKKA)


The Local Alcohol Policy (PAKKA) program combines community organizing, responsible beverage server/seller training, media advocacy, enforcement of underage drinking laws, and community events to influence change on alcohol service to and consumption by underage youth in Finland.


  • To create local structures that support underage drinking prevention
  • To reduce social and commercial availability of alcohol to those under age 18 (the legal age for purchasing alcohol in Finland)
  • To change community attitudes and norms related to local alcohol use and control

Typical Elements

  • A full-time community coordinator to facilitate program implementation  (Holmila & Warpenius, 2007; Holmila, Karlsson, & Warpenius, 2010; Warpenius, Holmila, & Mustonen, 2010).
  • Two local structures, a steering group and a working group, to collaborate with the coordinator and support community action on underage drinking. Both groups should include community members and leaders from various sectors, including alcohol licensing authorities, law enforcement, the alcohol service industry, judicial system, prevention, and the media (Holmila & Warpenius, 2007; Holmila, Karlsson, & Warpenius, 2010; Warpenius et al., 2010):
    • The steering group serves in an advisory role, particularly to support policy changes.
    • The more task-oriented working group meets regularly to plan and support program implementation.
  • Seminars to facilitate discussion and address conflicting interests between licensed alcohol outlets and licensing authority representatives (Holmila & Warpenius, 2007; Holmila et al., 2010; Warpenius et al., 2010).
  • A voluntary half-day, drama-based training for alcohol sellers and servers. Topics covered can include (Holmila & Warpenius, 2007; Warpenius & Holmila, 2007; Warpenius et al., 2010):
  • Media advocacy techniques to promote healthy drinking norms and responsible service practices in licensed alcohol outlets. Activities can include (Holmila & Warpenius, 2007; Warpenius & Holmila, 2007; Warpenius et al., 2010):
    • Gathering information about underage drinking and related problems, the frequency and consequences of over-serving, and alcohol server/seller concerns.
    • Developing prevention messages about the need for change and how to bring about that change.
    • Using multiple media outlets to convey prevention messages to the intended audience(s).
    • Monitoring and fine-tuning both messages and delivery efforts as needed.
  • Enforcement of relevant laws, including minimum age of alcohol purchase, sale, and server and minors in possession of alcohol laws. Activities can include (Holmila & Warpenius, 2007; Warpenius & Holmila, 2007; Warpenius et al., 2010) increasing the number of compliance checks or alcohol purchase surveys to monitor licensed alcohol outlets and issuing mild sanctions to offenders (e.g., written reprimands, counseling).
  • Community events to influence public perceptions related to alcohol service and consumption (Warpenius et al., 2010). These events often involve and target youth and parents (Holmila & Warpenius, 2007; Warpenius & Holmila, 2007). For example, one such event from the original demonstration project was a drama-based education program for parents emphasizing parental responsibility in alcohol education.


  • Finnish youth under age 18
  • Licensed alcohol outlets


Compared to non-PAKKA communities, PAKKA communities have demonstrated a greater increase in (Holmila & Warpenius, 2012):

  • The attitude that it is inappropriate for a 15-year-old to have a drink in a family celebration


No guidelines are available in English.


Alcohol Abuse among Adolescents in Europe: Effective Environmental Strategies for Prevention

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

Practices and Interventions for Prevention of Alcohol Use among Young People in Europe


Holmila, M., Karlsson, T., & Warpenius, K. (2010). Controlling teenagers’ drinking: Effects of a community-based prevention project. Journal of Substance Use, 15(3): 201–214.

Holmila, M., & Warpenius, K. (2007). A study on effectiveness of local alcohol policy: Challenges and solutions in the PAKKA project. Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy, 14(6), 529–541.

Holmila, M., & Warpenius, K. (2012). Community-based prevention of alcohol-related injuries: Possibilities and experiences. International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research, 1(1), 27–39.

Warpenius, K., & Holmila, M. (2007). Connecting alcohol research and prevention practice: Lessons learned from PAKKA. Nordic Studies on Alcohol And Drugs, 24(6), 652–55. 

Warpenius, K., Holmila, M., & Mustonen, H. (2010). Effects of a community intervention to reduce the serving of alcohol to intoxicated patrons. Addiction 105(6), 1032–1040.