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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC: Alcohol Ads Visible Outside Baltimore’s Liquor Stores Linked to Increased Violent Crime

A new study from researchers at Boston University found that Baltimore liquor outlets that hung alcohol ads so they were visible from the street had higher levels of violent crime within 1,000 feet of the premises.

The researchers examined four types of violent crime — homicide, aggravated assault, rape and robbery — and the association was strongest for homicide. Publicly visible ads were associated with 30 percent higher levels of homicide and 15 percent higher levels of aggravated assault, forcible rape and robbery. In Baltimore, this translates to roughly three additional homicides, aggravated assaults and robberies each year within 1,000 feet of the outlets that hang externally visible alcohol ads.

“This is a matter of life and death. We’ve known alcohol outlets were associated with violence for a while, but this is the first time anyone has looked at the role of alcohol ads themselves in the peer-reviewed literature,” said lead author Dr. Pamela J. Trangenstein, an assistant professor of health behavior at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health. “Closing outlets isn’t a popular solution. Given the strong associations between the outlets and violence, more research like this may suggest alternatives — like banning alcohol ads in public — that could help reduce and prevent violence.”

Dr. Trangenstein and others consistently have shown that locations in Baltimore with higher concentrations of alcohol outlets see higher rates of violence. Studies in numerous cities have found the same relationship, and the Task Force on Community Preventive Services has endorsed addressing alcohol outlet density as a violence prevention strategy.

The report was published January 21 in the journal American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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