via Wikimedia Commons
via Wikimedia Commons

County health officials released a report Tuesday showing a strong link between alcohol retailers and a myriad of health and safety problems, including violent crime, emergency room admissions and hospitalizations.

“By demonstrating such a high correlation between alcohol availability and a range of serious community problems, we hope this report makes it clear that something can be done to curb these seemingly entrenched problems,” said Wesley Ford, deputy director for Health Promotion in the Department of Public Health.

Excessive alcohol consumption is the second-leading cause of premature death and disability in Los Angeles County.

The new study released Tuesday — Alcohol Outlet Density and Alcohol- Related Consequences by City and Community in Los Angeles County, 2013 — analyzed the density of alcohol retailers like bars, restaurants and liquor stores relative to the number of violent crimes, vehicle crashes, emergency room admissions and other problems.

“Alcohol-related problems are one of the biggest public health and safety challenges LA County faces,” said Sarah Blanch, regional director of the Institute for Public Strategies, which works with communities to prevent drug and alcohol-related problems.

“If we want to reduce alcohol’s impact, we need to have strong local controls on new and existing alcohol retailers.”

Cities and communities with a high density of off-premises outlets — liquor stores, grocery stores, convenience stores — were 3.7 times more likely to have high rates of violent crime. Those with higher density of those outlets or on-premises outlets like bars and clubs were twice as likely to have high rates of alcohol-related hospitalizations.

“The findings in this report underscore the need for policymakers, communities, schools, businesses, health care providers and others to take targeted preventive actions to reduce alcohol outlet density and adverse alcohol-related consequences among adults and youth,” lead researcher Tina Kim said.

—City News Service

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