BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The Licensing Act 2003 deregulated trading hours in England and Wales (E&W). Previous evaluations have focused on consumption and harm outcomes, finding mixed results. Several evaluations speculated on the reasons for their results, noting the role of changes in the characteristics of drinking occasions. This study aimed to test proposed mechanisms of effect for the Licensing Act 2003 by evaluating changes in characteristics of drinking occasions.
DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Interrupted monthly time series analysis of effects in E&W versus a Scottish control series, using 2001-2008 data collected via 7-day drinking occasions diaries by the market research company Kantar (N=89,192 adults aged 18+).
MEASUREMENTS: Outcomes were start and end time of each reported occasion; variation in finish time; prevalence of pre-loading, post-loading and late-night drinking; and alcohol consumption (in units).
FINDINGS: After the introduction of the Act, occasions shifted later at night in E&W (finish time +11.4 minutes; 95% CI=3.6-19.2). More occasions involved pre-loading in E&W relative to Scotland (0.02% increase; 95% CI=0.01-0.03). There was no evidence of changes in variation in finish time, post-loading, late-night drinking, or alcohol consumption.
CONCLUSIONS: The Licensing Act 2003 in England and Wales appears to have had only limited effects on the characteristics of drinking occasions. This may help to explain its lack of substantial impacts on alcohol harms.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
J.H. has received research funding from Systembolaget and Alko, the government‐owned alcohol retail monopolies in Sweden and Finland. P.S.M. has also received research funding from Alko.
This paper presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research (SPHR; PD‐SPH‐2015), the University of Sheffield and the Economic and Social Research Council (ES/R005257/1). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. F.deV. is partly funded by National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration West (NIHR ARC West) and the National Institute for Health Research School for Public Health Research.
© 2021 The Authors. Addiction published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for the Study of Addiction.
- drinking occasions
- health policy
- natural experiment
- time series analysis