From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

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A study by MRC SPHSU Researchers, Robert Young, Laura Macdonald and Anne Ellaway found that the closer Glaswegian teens live to their local off-sales the more likely they are to engage in regular underage drinking, irrespective of social background and other factors.

Proximity to off-sales linked to increased drinking among underage drinkers

posted on: Dec 17, 2012

A study by Medical Research Council, Social & Public Health Science Unit by researchers, Robert Young, Laura Macdonald and Anne Ellaway found that the closer Glaswegian teens live to their local off-sales the more likely they are to engage in regular underage drinking, irrespective of social background and other factors.
 

A study published in the journal Health & Place looked at the drinking patterns of nearly 1000, 15-year old school-pupils. Researchers calculated the distance from each teenagers’ home postcode to their nearest on-sales (local off-licence) and on-sales (pub or club) establishment and pupils estimated how often they drank alcohol, from never to every day.  They also counted how many licensed premises were within walking distance (within 1200m) of each pupil’s address.
 
Having a pub or club nearby or having many pubs/clubs within easy reach was unrelated to the frequency of underage drinking. However, teenagers living very close to off-sales (200 meters) were about twice as likely to drink weekly than those living further away (more than 800 meters from an outlets). Teens with many (more than 30) nearby off-sales were 50% more likely to drink weekly than those with few (less than 10) nearby off-sales and young people from different social background were equally affected.
 
Robert Young commented, ‘We found those living very close to an off-sales premises were about twice as likely to drink weekly than those living further away, regardless of whether they were poor or affluent and regardless of family background. They were also more likely to drink regularly if they lived in an area with many outlets selling alcohol, which suggests that clustering of off-sales may be linked to more frequent underage drinking’.
 
The authors made it clear that this was a study about frequency of underage drinking and not problem drinking or alcohol-related trouble. While frequent drinking is not a healthy activity at any age, many teenagers drink but never engage in serious antisocial behaviour. While it is possible that limiting the number of outlets could reduce the frequency of underage drinking, simply limiting the number of licence premises may be ineffective in reducing alcohol-related trouble among underage drinkers. Alcohol-related problems tend to be concentrated in particular ‘trouble-spots’ and are influenced by other factors beyond just proximity.
 
The work was funded by the Medical Research Council of Great Britain.
The full article can be found here.