Neighborhood Alcohol Outlets and the Association with Violent Crime in One Mid-Atlantic City: The Implications for Zoning Policy
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Violent crime such as homicide causes significant excess morbidity and mortality in US urban areas. A health impact assessment (HIA) identified zoning policy related to alcohol outlets as one way to decrease violent crime. The objectives were to determine the relationship between alcohol outlets including off-premise alcohol outlets and violent crime in one urban area to provide local public health evidence to inform a zoning code rewrite. An ecologic analysis of census tracts in Baltimore City was conducted from 2011 to 2012. The data included violent crimes (n = 51,942) from 2006 to 2010, licensed alcohol outlets establishments (n = 1,327) from 2005 to 2006, and data on neighborhood disadvantage, percent minority, percent occupancy, and drug arrests from 2005 to 2009. Negative binomial regression models were used to determine the relationship between the counts of alcohol outlets and violent crimes controlling for other factors. Spatial correlation was assessed and regression inference adjusted accordingly. Each one-unit increase in the number of alcohol outlets was associated with a 2.2 % increase in the count of violent crimes adjusting for neighborhood disadvantage, percent minority, percent occupancy, drug arrests, and spatial dependence (IRR = 1.022, 95 % CI = 1.015, 1.028). Off-premise alcohol outlets were significantly associated with violent crime in the adjusted model (IRR = 1.048, 95 % CI = 1.035, 1.061). Generating Baltimore-specific estimates of the relationship between alcohol outlets and violent crime has been central to supporting the incorporation of alcohol outlet policies in the zoning code rewrite being conducted in Baltimore City.
KeywordsCrime Alcohol Policy-making Health policy Crime Health impact assessment
This work was supported by a Rapid Response Grant from the Robert Wood Johns Foundation Active Living Research (Grant No. 66853), the National Institute of Drug Abuse (grant number K01 DA022298-01A1), and the Urban Institute at Johns Hopkins University. We would like to thank our collaborators at the Departments of Planning and Health and the City Solicitor for their tireless work to benefit the health and welfare of Baltimore City residents.
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