Neighborhood Liquor Stores Raise Risk for Violence

They're more strongly linked to crime than licensed bars, study finds

WEDNESDAY, May 31, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- While fights that break out in bars are well-documented, alcohol bought in a neighborhood liquor store is more likely to lead to violence, new research shows.

The study, conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), concluded that stores selling alcohol amplify violent incidents in all communities, while bars have an effect primarily on neighborhoods already prone to violence.

PIRE used data from 1,637 California zip codes as the basis for the study, which was done for the U.S. government's National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Researchers analyzed hospital discharges for adults 15 and older and data gathered from the U.S. Census concerning education, ethnicity, race, and poverty. They found that stores that sell alcohol are more numerous in poorer areas.

On the other hand, bars affected the violence rate in communities already prone to such behavior; these neighborhoods were characterized by a lack of stability, wealth and "organization," the researchers said.

"The regulation of alcohol outlets in violence-prone areas clearly is an important step to reducing crime," study author Paul Gruenewald, science director at Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), said in a prepared statement.

"In areas where bars are a particular problem, special effort should be made to reduce the potential for violence in these establishments," said Gruenewald.

The study appears in the May issue of Addiction.

More information

For more on alcohol abuse, head to the U.S. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

SOURCE: Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, news release, May 12, 2006
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