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Regulating Alcohol Outlet Density Prevents Excessive Alcohol Use

Regulating the number of places in a given area where alcohol may be legally sold (outlet density) is an effective way to prevent excessive alcohol use, according to a Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide) systematic review published in the December issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The review was led by Community Guide scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with federal and nonfederal experts in research, practice, and policy.

Based on this review, the Community Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) recommends the use of regulatory authority (e.g., through licensing and zoning) to limit alcohol outlet density, on the basis of sufficient evidence of a positive association between outlet density and excessive alcohol consumption and related harms.

Excessive alcohol consumption, which includes both binge drinking and heavy average daily alcohol consumption, is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States. According to the review, sufficient evidence exists of a positive link between outlet density and excessive alcohol use and related harms.

The Task Force is a nonfederal, volunteer, independent group of public health and prevention experts appointed by the CDC Director. This recommendation, review methods and other findings are described in the following articles:

Task Force Recommendation:
Evidence review:

Visit Regulation of Alcohol Outlet Density to learn more about this Task Force recommendation and findings. For information about other Community Guide systematic reviews, including additional reviews on interventions to prevent excessive alcohol use, see all Community Guide topics.