Malt liquor is a troublesome product for communities. Malt liquor is a lager beer with a higher alcohol content than regular beer (4-5 vs. 6-8%), and is associated with frequent daily drinking, heavy drinking, and with problem behaviors such as theft, disorderly conduct, assaults, and panhandling. About one-third of the largest U.S. cities have adopted policies to restrict malt liquor often overcoming significant hurdles to do so. To date, there have been no studies in the published literature that have evaluated the effectiveness of these policies. Rigorous evaluation studies are needed to address current gaps in assessing the effectiveness of malt liquor policies. Local alcohol policies are not adopted in isolation, but are adopted in the context of broader state alcohol policy. Especially needed are evaluation studies that take into account the state alcohol policy environment, (i.e., what state alcohol policies exists when local policies are adopted) and other aspects of the local alcohol policy environment (e.g., enforcement and compliance with malt liquor policies, other local alcohol policies). The specific objectives of our 4-year study are to: 1) Develop mew measures of the restrictiveness of malt liquor and other alcohol policies. 2) Evaluate the effectiveness of malt liquor policies in reducing crime associated with malt liquor consumption in 19 U.S. cities using an interrupted time series design (e.g., aggregated assault, theft/larceny, disorderly conduct, minor consumption/possession, drinking in public). For this aim, we will analyze monthly crime three years prior to implementation of the malt liquor policies and three years following implementation of the policies in neighborhoods (i.e., census block groups) targeted by the policies and not targeted by the policies (2000 to 2012). 3) Assess whether the effects of malt liquor policies on crime vary by the state alcohol policy environment using panel regression models or pooled time series design. For this aim, we will draw on data from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's, Alcohol Policy Information System, (APIS) which includes information on the features of alcohol policies in all 50 states. We will focus on state alcohol policies most likely to influence the success of malt liquor policies including underage possession/ consumption, purchase, furnishing, false identification, beer taxes, and the retail and whole distribution system for beer. In addition, we will identify and analyze the influence of features of alcohol outdoor advertising policies for states in our study. These data are not currently available in APIS. Results will further our understanding of why some local alcohol policies are more effective than others in reducing problems associated with alcohol consumption, and how the state alcohol policy environment can facilitate or hinder local alcohol policymaking efforts. Results will also help local policymakers in other cities.
Studies evaluating the effectiveness of malt liquor policies in reducing alcohol-related problems have practical and real-world implications for cities dealing with problems related to malt liquor use and wishing to adopt malt liquor policies.