Is restricting sales of malt liquor beverages effective in reducing crime in urban areas?

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1 Scopus citations


Objective: We evaluated the effects of outlet and small area level malt liquor policies on crime in 10 U.S. cities and hypothesized that more restrictive malt liquor policies would be associated with greater reductions in crime. Method: We used a pooled time-series study design (i.e., panel regression) with comparison areas to test our hypothesis. Quarterly crime rates in targeted areas were compared 3 years before and after policy adoption. Four crime outcomes were analyzed: Selected Part II crimes, assaults, vandalism/property damage, and disorderly conduct. Both the presence and absence of a malt liquor policy (yes, no) and degree of restrictiveness of the malt liquor policy were assessed using a newly created measure of malt liquor policy restrictiveness developed by the investigators. Results were analyzed using a series of linear mixed models. Results: Adoption of malt liquor policies was not associated with Part II selected crimes. For individual crimes (e.g., assaults, vandalism, disorderly conduct), we found mixed results as more restrictive malt liquor policies were significantly associated with decreases as well as increases in crime. In general, the evaluated policies were considered to be not highly restrictive. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that malt liquor policies at the outlet or small area level alone may not be sufficient to reduce crime associated with malt liquor use. Policies that are more restrictive or cover larger areas than assessed in the current study may be required to have an independent effect on crime outcomes. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 79, 826–834, 2018).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)826-834
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Received: October 30, 2017. Revision: July 18, 2018. This research was supported by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Grant Number R01AA020496. *Correspondence may be sent to Rhonda Jones-Webb at the School of Public Health Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 S. Second Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55545, or via email at:

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Alcohol Research Documentation Inc.. All rights reserved.


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