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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Finds Strong Alcohol Policies Help Reduce Alcohol-Involved Homicides

Stronger alcohol policies, including taxes and sales restrictions, have been shown to reduce the likelihood of alcohol involvement among homicide victims, according to a new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH).

The study, published online in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, supports the importance of alcohol control policies to reduce violence, including homicide.

The new study looked at the relationship between alcohol policies in place and the likelihood of alcohol involvement (either up to the legal limit of 0.08 or above that limit) among the 27,000 victims of homicide from 17 U.S. states between 2003 and 2012. The data analyzed was from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s)National Violent Death Reporting System. State alcohol policies for each year were characterized using the “Alcohol Policy Scale,” a measure of the policy “environment” based on 29 separate alcohol control policies.

Stronger, more restrictive state alcohol policies were protective when alcohol was involved in a homicide. Specifically, a 1 percent increase in the restrictiveness of policies corresponded to a 1 percent reduction in likelihood of alcohol involvement among homicide victims.

“Given the risks involved with alcohol use, strengthening effective alcohol policies could help prevent homicides,” said lead author Dr. Timothy Naimi, associate professor of community health sciences at BUSPH and of medicine at the School of Medicine.

Furthermore, findings were similarly protective among important groups who account for a large proportion of deaths or who are particularly vulnerable, including young adult homicide victims, those who died in intimate partner violence-related homicides, and those who died from firearms-related homicides, including murders involving guns.

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