Regulation of Alcohol Outlet Density

The use of licensing or zoning laws allows states and communities to regulate the number of alcohol outlets in a given area. There is significant research showing that the more alcohol outlets, the greater the harms. This applies to both on-premise outlets (such as bars and restaurants) and off-premise outlets (such as grocery stores and liquor stores).

Note: this has been identified as one of the World Health Organization’s three “best buys,” a designation given to policy options that are highly cost effective, feasible, and culturally acceptable to implement


Bloom, D. E., Chisholm, D., Jané-Llopis, E., Prettner, K., Stein, A., & Feigl, A. (2011). From burden to" best buys": reducing the economic impact of non-communicable disease in low-and middle-income countries (No. 7511). Program on the Global Demography of Aging. Available online here.

Campbell, C. A., Hahn, R. A., Elder, R., Brewer, R., Chattopadhyay, S., Fielding, J., ... & Task Force on Community Preventive Services. (2009). The effectiveness of limiting alcohol outlet density as a means of reducing excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms. American journal of preventive medicine, 37(6), 556-569. Available online here.
Scribner, R. A., Cohen, D. A., & Fisher, W. (2000). Evidence of a structural effect for alcohol outlet density: a multilevel analysis. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 24(2), 188-195. Abstract available here.


The U.S. Alcohol Policy Alliance (USAPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization translating alcohol policy research into public health practice. The Alliance is committed to ensuring that local and statewide organizations engaging in alcohol policy initiatives have access to the science, resources and technical assistance, including support for organizing efforts, required to engage in informed decisions and actions in translating alcohol policy research into public health practice.

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