Tighter local alcohol licensing curbs linked to fewer drink-related hospital admissions

November 10, 2015, British Medical Journal

Tighter local alcohol licensing curbs are linked to fewer drink-related hospital admissions in these areas, reveals research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

In areas with the most restrictive licensing policies, annual drink-related admissions were 2% lower than would have been expected if no active policies had been in place, the findings show.

Alcohol misuse costs the NHS in England alone an estimated £3.5 billion every year. But that excludes the additional annual costs of drink-fuelled crime of £11 billion, and a further £7.3 billion in lost productivity.

The proportion of regular drinkers has fallen since 2005. But around a third of women and more than four out of 10 men exceed recommended weekly alcohol limits, while regular drinking is become more common among middle aged and older adults.

The researchers assessed the alcohol licensing policies and responses to alcohol licensing applications made to 326 (councils) between 2007-8 and 2011-12.

Council licensing policies allow for the creation of designated cumulative impact zones, or CIZ for short. These aim to regulate the number of new alcohol outlets in areas where the addition of more would undermine crime prevention and public safety, create a public nuisance or potentially expose children to harm.

The research team generated a 'cumulative licensing intensity score' for each council, based on whether they deployed CIZ and/or whether they refused to grant licenses for new premises. The score was divided into four categories: no activity; low; medium; and high.

In 2007-8, 118 out of 319 (37%) local councils operated some form of active alcohol licensing policy, one in five of which also included CIZ for new premises.

The cumulative intensity licensing score was classified as medium or high in around a third (35%) of councils; 43% were classified as no activity; while 21% were classified as low.

By 2014, a further 63 councils had adopted active alcohol licensing policies.

The researchers also looked at the number of drink-related , standardised for age, in each of the local areas from 2009 up to the first quarter of 2015.

After taking account of influential factors, such as deprivation and drink-fuelled crime, the analysis showed that the intensity of alcohol licensing policies was associated with a reduction in drink-related hospital admissions between 2009 and 2015.

The largest effects were seen in those local authority areas operating the most comprehensive policies.

Drink-related hospital admissions fell by an average of 0.6% every year in those local authorities with a medium score—twice as large as the fall in the average admission rate between 2009 and 2015 in those local authorities without an active alcohol policy.

In the local authorities classified as high, drink-related hospital admissions fell by 2% every year, or around 8 fewer drink-related admissions per 100,000 of the population in 2015, compared with what would have been expected in the absence of any active policy.

The researchers emphasise that this is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. And they point out that the findings could also be the result of other additional alcohol policies, such as late night levies, or alcohol screening, which they did not investigate.

But they conclude: "These analyses contribute to the available evidence on the effectiveness of population level alcohol licensing policies specifically for England, and are the first to demonstrate that the intensity with which selected alcohol licensing policies are implemented and scrutinised is related to measurable reductions in alcohol attributable hospital admissions."

Explore further: Tough alcohol policies linked to lower death rates from liver damage

More information: Measurable effects of local alcohol licensing policies on population health in England, DOI: 10.1136/jech-2015-206040

Related Stories

Tough alcohol policies linked to lower death rates from liver damage

October 15, 2015
(HealthDay)—States with strong alcohol control policies have lower death rates connected to alcohol-related liver damage, a new study finds.

Alcohol-control law may curb partner abuse

December 10, 2014
Communities with fewer places to buy or drink alcohol also tend to have lower rates of intimate partner violence, new evidence suggests.

Light/moderate drinking linked to increased risk of some cancers in women and male smokers

August 18, 2015
Even light and moderate drinking (up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men) is associated with an increased risk of certain alcohol related cancers in women and male smokers, suggests a large study ...

Research finds similar neural reactions among drinkers, abstainers

August 27, 2015
College students who are light alcohol drinkers or abstainers react the same when they see alcohol as those who drink regularly or binge drink, according to a researcher at The University of Alabama.

Strong state alcohol policies reduce likelihood of binge drinking

August 14, 2014
People living in states with stronger alcohol policy environments have a substantially lower likelihood of any binge drinking, frequent binge drinking, and high-intensity binge drinking, according to a new study by researchers ...

Recommended for you

E-cigarette vapor disables key immune cells in the lung and boosts inflammation

August 14, 2018
E-cigarette vapour boosts the production of inflammatory chemicals and disables key protective cells in the lung that keep the air spaces clear of potentially harmful particles, reveals a small experimental study, published ...

New study finds fake, low-quality medicines prevalent in the developing world

August 10, 2018
A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that substandard and falsified medicines, including medicines to treat malaria, are a serious problem in much of the world. In low- and middle-income ...

Insurance status tied to higher self-perceived poor/fair health

August 9, 2018
(HealthDay)—Underinsured and never insured adults are more likely than adequately insured adults to report poor/fair health and frequent mental distress (FMD), according to a study published online July 19 in the U.S. Centers ...

Giving kids plates with segments and pictures caused them to eat more vegetables

August 8, 2018
A pair of researchers at the University of Colorado has found that preschool kids ate more vegetables when presented with segmented plates with pictures of fruits and vegetables on them. In their paper published in JAMA Pediatrics, ...

Carbon dioxide levels on flight deck affect airline pilot performance

August 8, 2018
Commercial airline pilots were significantly better at performing advanced maneuvers in a flight simulator when carbon dioxide (CO2) levels on the flight deck (cockpit) were 700 parts per million (ppm) and 1500 ppm than when ...

Boxers or briefs? Loose-fitting underwear may benefit sperm production

August 8, 2018
Men who most frequently wore boxers had significantly higher sperm concentrations and total sperm counts when compared with men who did not usually wear boxers, according to new research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.