Concern over number of alcohol outlets

Posted on: Wednesday, 07 September 2011

New research by Eastern Health's Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre has revealed links between the density of Victorian alcohol outlets and the number of assault-related hospital admissions.

Analysis of liquor licensing, hospitalisation and demographic data by the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research at Turning Point found a 10 per cent increase in the rate of general licences was likely to increase hospitalisation rates for assault by 0.6 per cent. Similarly, a 10 per cent increase in packaged liquor outlets could increase assault rates by 0.8 per cent.

Researcher Michael Livingston said there was also a strong positive association between the density of packaged outlets and the rates of alcohol-fuelled chronic disease.

He said a 10 per cent increase in the rate of packaged licences increased hospitalisations by 1.9 per cent, while a 10 per cent increase in licensed premises increased chronic disease related to alcohol by 0.5 per cent.

“This relationship fits with the idea that different types of alcohol outlets in a local environment impact on routine drinking activities, with high densities of packaged liquor providing a cheap source of alcohol and resulting in higher levels of drinking,” Mr Livingston said.

He said while the results of the study needed to be treated with caution, they did provide further evidence that alcohol-related problems in Melbourne are associated with the density of alcohol outlets.

Findings from the report, „Alcohol outlet density and harm: Comparing the impacts on violence and chronic harms‟, will be published in this month's edition of Drug and Alcohol Review.

“The current policy emphasis in Victoria is on entertainment districts and general licences, which are again found to be related to violence in this study,” Mr Livingston said. “There has been little attention paid to the effects of packaged liquor outlets on alcohol-related problems.”

“These results suggest that further focus on packaged liquor is required, both in terms of future research to determine the mechanisms for the observed relationships and in terms of regulatory attention.”