Proximity to Liquor Stores and Adolescent Alcohol Intake: A Prospective Study


      Cross-sectional studies have reported associations between liquor store availability and alcohol use among adolescents, but few prospective studies have confirmed this association. The aim of this study was to examine whether proximity to liquor stores at age 14 years was associated with alcohol intake at ages 14, 17, and 20 years.


      Participants of the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study (n=999) self-reported alcohol intake at age 14 years (early adolescence, 2003–2005); age 17 years (middle adolescence, 2006–2008); and age 20 years (late adolescence, 2009–2011). A GIS measured proximity to the closest liquor store from participants’ home and school addresses at age 14 years. Regression analyses in 2017 assessed the relationship between distance to the closest liquor store around home, school, or both (≤800 m versus >800 m) and alcohol intake.


      In cross-sectional analyses (age 14 years), having a liquor store within 800 m of school was associated with ever having part of an alcoholic drink (OR=2.34, p=0.003). Also, having a liquor store within 800 m of home or school was associated with ever having part of an alcoholic drink (OR=1.49, p=0.029) and ever having engaged in heavy drinking (OR=1.79, p=0.023). In prospective analyses, liquor store proximity at age 14 years was a significant predictor of alcohol intake at age 17 years (OR=2.34, p=0.032) but not at age 20 years.


      Liquor store availability in early adolescence may be a risk factor for alcohol intake in early and middle, but not late, adolescence. Improved understanding of the longer-term impacts of liquor store exposure on sensitive populations could help inform future licensing regulations.
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