Does liquor store availability influence alcohol intake in adolescence?

Trapp GSA, Knuiman M, Hooper P, Foster S. Jun 2018 Am J Prev Med; 54(6):825-830.

Publication date: Jun 2018

Keywords: adolescents, alcohol, alcohol outlet, neighbourhood, residence characteristics, School

What is already known about this subject:

  • A growing body of international research has highlighted a link between liquor store availability and alcohol use, generally finding that people living in neighbourhoods with greater availability of liquor stores have higher alcohol intake.
  • Most studies to-date have concentrated on adults, however liquor store availability may also impact alcohol consumption in adolescents. The aim of this study was to examine whether distance from the nearest liquor store to home and school in early adolescence (i.e., 14 years) was associated with alcohol intake at 14, 17 and 20 years of age.
  • Understanding how neighbourhood availability to liquor stores can impact on underage drinking is an important avenue of research enquiry as governments can regulate the location and number of liquor stores.

What this study adds

  • This study focused on the Raine Study Gen2 participants who lived in metropolitan Perth and completed a survey about their alcohol intake at 14, 17 and 20-years of age. A geographic information system (i.e., mapping technology similar to google earth) mapped each of the Raine Study participant’s home and school address and measured the distance to the closest liquor store. We then linked information about participants’ alcohol intake with the distance to their nearest liquor store from home and school to see if a relationship existed.
  • At age 14 years, having a liquor store close to home or school (i.e., within 800m) was associated with greater alcohol intake at age 14 and 17, but not at 20 years.
  • Overall our findings suggest that liquor store availability in early adolescence may be contributing to alcohol intake in early and middle (but not late) adolescence. Greater regulation of alcohol outlet availability in the community may be a useful public health strategy for reducing underage alcohol consumption at the population level.
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