Case for keeping residential areas free of liquor shops

May 13th, 2008 - 1:50 pm ICT by admin  

Toronto, May 13 (IANS) Setting up liquor shops in residential neighbourhoods is not a good idea - so says a Canadian study that has sought to link a spurt in sales in such outlets to increased violence. As part of the study, the researchers identified 3,212 people aged over 13 who had been hospitalised over a 32-month period because of a serious assault.

They compared the volume of alcohol sold at the liquor store closest to the victim’s home the day before the assault with the volume sold at the same store a week earlier.

For every extra 1,000 litres of alcohol sold per store per day, the overall risk of being hospitalised for assault increased by 13 percent. At peak times of alcohol sales, the risk of assault was 41 percent higher than at times when alcohol sales were lowest.

Joel Ray of the University of Toronto tracked alcohol sales in Ontario, Canada’s largest province, where most liquor is sold through government-run stores.

Ontario also maintains detailed computerised medical records of people hospitalised as a result of violent assault.

Ray found that the risk was highest in three subgroups of people: men (18 percent increased risk), youths aged 13 to 20 years (21 percent) and those living in urban areas (19 percent).

A total of 1,150 assaults (36 percent) involved the use of a sharp or blunt weapon, and 1,532 (48 percent) arose during an unarmed brawl or fight.

Because the study considers only serious assaults and alcohol sold in shops - not including alcohol sold in bars - it probably underestimates the link between alcohol and assault.

It also does not indicate whether the victim or perpetrator of the assault (or both) had been drinking, and its findings may not apply to countries with different drinking habits.

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