Prevention Science

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 833–843 | Cite as

Using Zoning as a Public Health Tool to Reduce Oversaturation of Alcohol Outlets: an Examination of the Effects of the New “300 Foot Rule” on Packaged Goods Stores in a Mid-Atlantic City

  • Christopher L Hippensteel
  • Richard C SadlerEmail author
  • Adam J Milam
  • Victoria Nelson
  • C. Debra Furr-Holden


The oversaturation of alcohol outlets can have disastrous public health consequences. The goal of this study was to evaluate the potential impact of new zoning legislation, TransForm Baltimore on locations of alcohol outlets. More specifically, the study sought to determine the effect of the new zoning code on the potential redistribution of alcohol outlets and also provide empirical support for the need to actively monitor redistribution of outlets to avoid further inequitable oversaturation in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Data on off-premise alcohol outlets (e.g., packaged goods stores) were obtained from the Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City. The alcohol outlets were geocoded and assigned to zoning parcels. Churches and schools were also geocoded. The alcohol outlets were also assigned to census tracts to calculate socioeconomic statuses. One hundred seventy-two of the 263 off-premise packaged goods stores (PGS) were in violation of the new zoning law. TransForm will reduce the land parcels available to alcohol outlets by 27.2%. Areas containing non-conforming PGS were more likely to have a higher percentage of Black residents, single parent-families, unemployment, household poverty, and vacancy compared to Baltimore City averages and areas without non-conforming PGS. Planning enforcement efforts need to accompany related laws to prevent/reduce overconcentration of PGS in disadvantaged neighborhoods.


Zoning Alcohol outlets Alcohol outlet policy 



CDC 5R01CE002682 (PI Furr-Holden, D).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest Statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval (Research Involving Human Participants/Animals)

This project did not include human subjects or animals.

Informed Consent

Not applicable.


  1. Ahern, J., Margerison-Zilko, C., Hubbard, A., & Galea, S. (2013). Alcohol outlets and binge drinking in urban neighborhoods: The implications of nonlinearity for intervention and policy. American Journal of Public Health, 103(4), e81–e87.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. American Nutrition Association. (2015). USDA defines food deserts. Nutrition Digest, 38(2).Google Scholar
  3. Ashe, M., Jernigan, D., Kline, R., & Galaz, R. (2003). Land use planning and the control of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and fast food restaurants. American Journal of Public Health, 93(9), 1404–1408.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Bluthenthal, R. N., Cohen, D. A., Farley, T. A., Scribner, R., Beighley, C., Schonlau, M., & Robinson, P. L. (2008). Alcohol availability and neighborhood characteristics in Los Angeles, California and southern Louisiana. Journal of Urban Health, 85(2), 191–205.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Campbell, C. A., Hahn, R. A., Elder, R., Brewer, R., Chattopadhyay, S., Fielding, J., et al. (2009). The effectiveness of limiting alcohol outlet density as a means of reducing excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 37(6), 556–569.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Chartier, K., & Caetano, R. (2010). Ethnicity and health disparities in alcohol research. Alcohol Research & Health, 33(1–2), 152.Google Scholar
  7. Comptroller of Maryland (2016). Alcohol & tobacco tax annual report: fiscal year 2016.Google Scholar
  8. ESRI. (2016). ArcGIS ArcMap 10.4. Redlands, CA.Google Scholar
  9. Franklin, F. A., LaVeist, T. A., Webster, D. W., & Pan, W. K. (2010). Alcohol outlets and violent crime in Washington D.C. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 11(3), 283–290.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Furr-Holden, C. D., Milam, A. J., Nesoff, E. D., Johnson, R. M., Fakunle, D. O., Jennings, J. M., & Thorpe, R. J. (2016). Not in my back yard: A comparative analysis of crime around publicly funded drug treatment centers, liquor stores, convenience stores, and corner Stores in one mid-Atlantic City. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 77(1), 17–24.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Grover, P. L., and Bozzo, R. (1999). Preventing Problems Related to Alcohol Availability: Environmental Approaches: Reference Guide. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.Google Scholar
  12. Gruenewald, P. J., & Remer, L. (2006). Changes in outlet densities affect violence rates. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 30(7), 1184–1193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gruenewald, P. J., Madden, P., & Janes, K. (1992). Alcohol availability and the formal power and resources of state alcohol beverage control agencies. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 16(3), 591–597.Google Scholar
  14. Gyimah-Brempong, K. (2006). Neighborhood income, alcohol availability, and crime rates. The Review of Black Political Economy, 33(3), 21–44.Google Scholar
  15. Healy, M. A., & Gilliland, J. A. (2012). Quantifying the magnitude of environmental exposure misclassification when using imprecise address proxies in public health research. Spatial and spatio-temporal epidemiology, 3(1).Google Scholar
  16. Hollander, J. B., Pallagst, K., Schwarz, T., & Popper, F. J. (2009). Planning shrinking cities. Progress in Planning, 72(4), 223–232.Google Scholar
  17. Jennings, J. M., Milam, A. J., Greiner, A., Furr-Holden, C. D., Curriero, F. C., & Thornton, R. J. (2013). Neighborhood alcohol outlets and the association with violent crime in one mid-Atlantic City: The implications for zoning policy. Journal of Urban Health, 91(1), 62–71.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Kanny, D., Liu, Y., Brewer, R. D., & Lu, H. (2013). Binge drinking—United States, 2011. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 62(Suppl 3), 77–80.Google Scholar
  19. Kypri, K., Bell, M. L., Hay, G. C., & Baxter, J. (2008). Alcohol outlet density and university student drinking: A national study. Addiction, 103(7), 1131–1138.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Larsen, K., & Gilliland, J. (2008). Mapping the evolution of food deserts in a Canadian city: Supermarket accessibility in London, Ontario, 1961–2005. International Journal of Health Geographics, 7(1), 16.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  21. LaVeist, T. A., & Wallace, J. M. (2000). Health risk and inequitable distribution of liquor stores in African American neighborhood. Social Science & Medicine, 51(4), 613–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Livingston, M. (2008). A longitudinal analysis of alcohol outlet density and assault. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 32(6), 1074–1079.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mair, C., Gruenewald, P. J., Ponicki, W. R., & Remer, L. (2013). Varying impacts of alcohol outlet densities on violent assaults: explaining differences across neighborhoods. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs, 74(1), 50–58.Google Scholar
  24. Mayor’s Office of Information Technology. (2017). City of Baltimore’s open data catalog. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from
  25. Milam, A. J., Furr-Holden, C. D., Cooley-Strickland, M. C., Bradshaw, C. P., & Leaf, P. J. (2014). Risk for exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs on the route to and from school: The role of alcohol outlets. Prevention Science, 15(1), 12–21.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Minitab 17 Statistical Software (2010). [Computer Software]. State College, PA: Minitab, Inc.Google Scholar
  27. Minnesota Population Center.(2016) National historical geographic information system: Version 11.0 [Database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Retrieved from: Accessed March 2, 2017.Google Scholar
  28. Morrison, C., Smith, K., Gruenewald, P. J., Ponicki, W. R., Lee, J. P., & Cameron, P. (2015). Relating off-premises alcohol outlet density to intentional and unintentional injuries. Addiction,111(1), 56–64.Google Scholar
  29. Mosher, J. F., & Treffers, R. D. (2013). State pre-emption, local control, and alcohol retail outlet density regulation. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 44(4), 399–405.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Pollack, C. E., Cubbin, C., Ahn, D., & Winkleby, M. (2005). Neighbourhood deprivation and alcohol consumption: Does the availability of alcohol play a role? International Journal of Epidemiology, 34(4), 772–780.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Popova, S., Giesbrecht, N., Bekmuradov, D., & Patra, J. (2009). Hours and days of sale and density of alcohol outlets: impacts on alcohol consumption and damage: a systematic review. Alcohol & Alcoholism, 44(5), 500–516.Google Scholar
  32. Ransom, M. M., Greiner, A., Kochtitzky, C., & Major, K. S. (2011). Pursuing health equity: Zoning codes and public health. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 39(1_suppl), 94–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Romley, J. A., Cohen, D., Ringel, J., & Sturm, R. (2007). Alcohol and environmental justice: The density of liquor stores and bars in urban neighborhoods in the United States. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 68(1), 48–55.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Sadler, R. C., & Lafreniere, D. J. (2017). Racist housing practices as a precursor to uneven neighborhood change in a post-industrial city. Housing Studies, 32(2), 186–208.Google Scholar
  35. Sadler, R. C., Gilliland, J. A., & Arku, G. (2011). An application of the edge effect in measuring accessibility to multiple food retailer types in southwestern Ontario, Canada. In International Journal of Health Geographics.Google Scholar
  36. Sakaguchi, E., Kim, T., Striley, C. W., & Cottler, L. B. (2014). Spatial relationship between alcohol outlet density and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the city of St. Louis, Missouri.Google Scholar
  37. Schonlau, M., Scribner, R., Farley, T. A., Theall, K. P., Bluthenthal, R. N., Scott, M., & Cohen, D. A. (2008). Alcohol outlet density and alcohol consumption in Los Angeles county and southern Louisiana. Geospatial Health, 3(1), 91.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  38. Scribner, R. A., Cohen, D. A., & Fisher, W. (2000). Evidence of a structural effect for alcohol outlet density: a multilevel analysis. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 24(2), 188–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Theall, K. P., Lancaster, B. P., Lynch, S., Haines, R. T., Scribner, S., Scribner, R., & Kishore, V. (2011). The neighborhood alcohol environment and at-risk drinking among African-Americans. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 35(5), 996–1003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Thornton, R. L. J., Greiner, A., Jennings, J. (2013). Alcohol outlet control policy and public health in Baltimore: Evidence and arguments about creating healthier residential neighborhoods. The Abell Report, 26(2-A).Google Scholar
  41. Tienda, M. (1991). Poor people and poor places: Deciphering neighborhood effects on poverty outcomes. In J. Huber (Ed.), Macro-micro linkages in sociology (pp. 244–262). Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  42. TransForm Baltimore—zoning, council bill 12–0152 (2016).Google Scholar
  43. Truong, K. D., & Sturm, R. (2009). Alcohol environments and disparities in exposure associated with adolescent drinking in California. American Journal of Public Health, 99(2), 264–270.Google Scholar
  44. U.S. Census Bureau (1995). Population of counties by decennial census: 1900 to 1990. Retrieved from: Accessed April 7, 2017.Google Scholar
  45. U.S. Census Bureau (2016). QuickFacts: Baltimore City, Maryland. Retrieved from: Accessed April 7, 2017.Google Scholar
  46. WHO. (2011). Addressing the harmful use of alcohol: a guide to developing effective alcohol legislation. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  47. World Health Organization (1999). European Alcohol Action Plan 2000-2005. Retrieved from: Accessed 05 Jan 2018.
  48. World Health Organization, & World Health Organization. Management of Substance Abuse Unit. (2014). Global status report on alcohol and health, 2014. World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  49. Yu, Q., Scribner, R., Carlin, B., Theall, K., Simonsen, N., Ghosh-Dastidar, B., et al. (2008). Multilevel spatio-temporal dual changepoint models for relating alcohol outlet destruction and changes in neighbourhood rates of assaultive violence. Geospatial Health, 2(2), 161.Google Scholar
  50. Zhang, X., Hatcher, B., Clarkson, L., Holt, J., Bagchi, S., Kanny, D., & Brewer, R. D. (2015). Peer Reviewed: Changes in Density of On-Premises Alcohol Outlets and Impact on Violent Crime, Atlanta, Georgia, 1997–2007. Preventing Chronic Disease, 12, 140317.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher L Hippensteel
    • 1
  • Richard C Sadler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adam J Milam
    • 1
    • 2
  • Victoria Nelson
    • 1
  • C. Debra Furr-Holden
    • 1
  1. 1.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Cedars-Sinai Medical CenterEast LansingUSA

Personalised recommendations