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Am J Health Promot. 2012 Jan-Feb;26(3):e86-94. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.100615-QUAL-193.

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

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Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 South Second Street, Minneapolis, MN 55455-1015, USA.



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.


An exploratory, qualitative case study comparing cities that adopted policies to restrict malt liquor sales with cities that considered, but did not adopt policies.


Nine large U.S. cities in seven states.


City legislators and staff, alcohol enforcement personnel, police, neighborhood groups, business associations, alcohol retailers, and industry representatives.


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.


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.


Understanding the local context may be a critical step in winning support for local alcohol control policies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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