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J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2018 Jan;79(1):58-67.

Alcohol Consumption and the Physical Availability of Take-Away Alcohol: Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses of the Days and Hours of Sale and Outlet Density.

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Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
National Drug Research Institute, Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia.
Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England.
STAD, Centre for Psychiatry Research, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet & Stockholm Health Care Services, Stockholm, Sweden.
University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, California.
National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland.
Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs, Stockholm, Sweden.



Systematic reviews and meta-analyses were completed studying the effect of changes in the physical availability of take-away alcohol on per capita alcohol consumption. Previous reviews examining this topic have not focused on off-premise outlets where take-away alcohol is sold and have not completed meta-analyses.


Systematic reviews were conducted separately for policies affecting the temporal availability (days and hours of sale) and spatial availability (outlet density) of take-away alcohol. Studies were included up to December 2015. Quality criteria were used to select articles that studied the effect of changes in these policies on alcohol consumption with a focus on natural experiments. Random-effects meta-analyses were applied to produce the estimated effect of an additional day of sale on total and beverage-specific consumption.


Separate systematic reviews identified seven studies regarding days and hours of sale and four studies regarding density. The majority of articles included in these systematic reviews, for days/hours of sale (7/7) and outlet density (3/4), concluded that restricting the physical availability of take-away alcohol reduces per capita alcohol consumption. Meta-analyses studying the effect of adding one additional day of sale found that this was associated with per capita consumption increases of 3.4% (95% CI [2.7, 4.1]) for total alcohol, 5.3% (95% CI [3.2, 7.4]) for beer, 2.6% (95% CI [1.8, 3.5]) for wine, and 2.6% (95% CI [2.1, 3.2]) for spirits. The small number of included studies regarding hours of sale and density precluded meta-analysis.


The results of this study suggest that decreasing the physical availability of take-away alcohol will decrease per capita consumption. As decreasing per capita consumption has been shown to reduce alcohol-related harm, restricting the physical availability of take-away alcohol would be expected to result in improvements to public health.

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