Limit and Restrict the Location and Density of Alcohol Retail Outlets

Description of Strategy

Alcohol outlet density indicates the number of physical locations where alcohol is sold per population or geographic area (such as a square mile, census tract, or city block). It is often regulated at the local level through zoning and business licensing. State alcohol control agencies can also stipulate density levels. Regulations can either reduce alcoholic beverage outlet density or limit the increase of alcoholic beverage outlet density in an area (Guide to Community Preventive Services, 2007). Regulating the number of alcohol outlets per unit of area may decrease the retail availability of alcohol, which may lead to a decrease in excessive consumption of alcohol and its related harms.

In Wyoming, state law prescribes that “the number of retail liquor licenses issued shall be based on the following population formula:

(i) Not more than two licenses in incorporated towns of five hundred population or less;

(ii) Not more than one additional license for each additional five hundred population or major fraction thereof in incorporated cities or towns up to a population of nine thousand five hundred; and

(iii) Not more than one (1) additional license for each additional full three thousand population over nine thousand five hundred” (Wyo. Stat. Ann. §12-4-201, 2017).

Discussion of Effectiveness


Two systematic reviews found evidence that alcohol outlet density restrictions decrease excessive drinking and other alcohol-related harms. The Guide to Community Preventive Services (2007) found restricting the location and density of alcohol retail outlets is an effective local policy to decrease excessive alcohol consumption, alcohol-related crashes, and hospitalizations. The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (2014) found strong evidence that reducing alcohol density can reduce excessive alcohol consumption and harms, especially in geographically isolated communities.


Strategy Description

Guide to Community Preventive Services. (2007). Preventing excessive alcohol consumption: regulation of alcohol outlet density. Retrieved July 24, 2012

Wyoming Statute Annotated § 12-4-201 (2012). Retrieved October 20, 2017

Evidence Base

Campbell, C. A., Hahn, R. A., Elder, R., Brewer, R., Chattopadhyay, S., Fielding, J., … Middleton, J.C. (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. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2009.09.028

Chen, M.-J., Gruenewald, P. J., & Remer, L. G. (2009). Does alcohol outlet density affect youth access to alcohol? Journal of Adolescent Health, 44(6), 582–589. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2008.10.136

Guide to Community Preventive Services. (2007). Preventing excessive alcohol consumption: Regulation of alcohol outlet density.

Holder,H. D., Gruenewald, P.J., Ponicki, W.R., Treno, A.J., Grube, J.W., Saltz, R.F., … Roeper, P.(2000). Effect of community-based interventions on high-risk drinking and alcohol-related injuries. Journal of the American Medical Association, 284(18), 2341-2347.

University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, County Health Rankings and Roadmaps (2017). Alcohol outlet density restrictions. Retrieved October 20, 2017

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 and Alcoholism, 44(5), 500–516. doi:10.1093/alcalc/agp054

Futher Reading

Alcohol Justice. (2011). Alcohol outlet density and public health.

Promise Neighborhoods Research Consortium. (n.d.). Policy factsheet: Alcohol outlet density.