Adopting local alcohol policies: A case study of community efforts to regulate malt liquor sales

Patricia A. McKee, Toben F. Nelson, Traci L. Toomey, Scott T. Shimotsu, Peter J. Hannan, Rhonda J. Jones-Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: To learn how the local context may affect a city's ability to regulate alcohol products such as high-alcohol-content malt liquor, a beverage associated with heavy drinking and a spectrum of nuisance crimes in urban areas. Approach: An exploratory, qualitative case study comparing cities that adopted policies to restrict malt liquor sales with cities that considered, but did not adopt policies. Setting: Nine large U.S. cities in seven states. Participants: City legislators and staff, alcohol enforcement personnel, police, neighborhood groups, business associations, alcohol retailers, and industry representatives. Method: Qualitative data were obtained from key informant interviews (n = 56) and media articles (n = 360). The data were coded and categorized. Similarities and differences in major themes among and across Adopted and Considered cities were identified. Results: Cities faced multiple barriers in addressing malt liquor-related problems, including a lack of enforcement tools, alcohol industry opposition, and a lack of public and political will for alcohol control. Compared to cities that did not adopt malt liquor sales restrictions, cities that adopted restrictions appeared to have a stronger public mandate for a policy and were less influenced by alcohol industry opposition and lack of legislative authority for alcohol control. Strategies common to successful policymaking efforts are discussed. Conclusion: Understanding the local context may be a critical step in winning support for local alcohol control policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E86-E94
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


  • Alcohol consumption
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Malt liquor
  • Prevention research
  • Public policy


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