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Changing the Hours and Days of Sale of Alcohol
Environmental and Policy Change: Alcohol

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> Prevention Enhancement Protocols Systems (PEPS): Practitioners' Guide

> Prevention Enhancement Protocols Systems (PEPS): Reference Guide

> Case Histories in Alcohol Policy

Research has demonstrated that expanding the time that alcohol outlets may sell or serve alcohol increases the rates of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems. As a result, many states and local communities have restricted both the days and hours of sale as a means of decreasing overall alcohol availability and problem rates.

The approaches most often utilized to affect these factors include:

    • Reductions of the hours that off-sale outlets (convenience stores, liquor stores, markets, etc.), and on-sale alcohol outlets (bars, restaurants, nightclubs, etc.) may actually sell alcoholic beverages;
    • Making certain days illegal for alcohol sales to occur; and
    • Requiring that alcohol sales be stopped within a specific amount of time prior to the closing of an on-sale establishment.

    These strategies can be implemented at the state and local levels.  Different states have distinctive approaches to delegating the authority to regulate alcohol sales.  For example, in Wisconsin the local city or county has full responsibility for regulating how, when and where alcohol can be sold.  Conversely, in California the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has retained much of the authority to license outlets. Communities must first determine the level of local control over these matters to decide how actually to regulate the hours and sale of alcohol in their area. Once this determination has been made, local ordinances can often be used to establish conditions for local sales of alcoholic beverages.


    Research by Cook and Moore (1993) found that increases in alcohol consumption were associated with increases in violent crime. Smith (1988) found reducing hours of sale of alcohol resulted in lower vehicle collision rates between specific evening hours in Australia. Nordlund (1985) found that increased hours of sale of alcohol was associated with increased drunkenness and violence.

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    > Effects on traffic accidents of introducing Sunday alcohol sales in Brisbane, Australia

    > Effect on casualty traffic accidents of the introduction of 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday hotel closing in Victoria

    > Effect on traffic accidents of introducing Sunday hotel sales in New South Wales, Australia

    > Effect on traffic accidents of introducing flexible hotel trading hours in Tasmania, Australia

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    Featured Strategies
    > Responsible Beverage Service

    > Raising Alcohol Taxes

    > Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol

    > Preventing Alcohol Availability to Underage Youth

    > Alcohol Outlet Density


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    Free To Grow is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.