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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: How did a lower drink-drive limit affect bar trade and drinking practices? A qualitative study of how alcohol retailers experienced a change in policy
Author(s): Sumpter, Colin
Mohan, Andrea
McKell, Jennifer
Lewsey, James
Emslie, Carol
Fitzgerald, Niamh
Keywords: alcohol policy
alcohol retail environment
BAC limit
low alcohol alternatives
Issue Date: Feb-2020
Citation: Sumpter C, Mohan A, McKell J, Lewsey J, Emslie C & Fitzgerald N (2020) How did a lower drink-drive limit affect bar trade and drinking practices? A qualitative study of how alcohol retailers experienced a change in policy. Drug and Alcohol Review, 39 (2), pp. 170-179.
Abstract: Introduction and Aims Reducing the legal drink-drive limit from 0.08% to 0.05% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can reduce road traffic accidents and deaths if properly enforced. Reduced limits may be opposed by alcohol retail and manufacturing industries on the basis of commercial impact. Our aim was to qualitatively explore how a reduction in the drink-drive limit from 0.08% to 0.05% BAC in Scotland, was experienced by bar owners or managers, including any resultant changes in customer drinking or business practice. This is the first study of this type. Design and Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 owners and managers of on-trade premises in Scotland in 2018, approximately 3 years after the drink-drive limit was reduced. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Results Most participants reported no long-term financial impact on their business, but a few, mainly from rural areas, reported some reduction in alcohol sales. Observed drinking changes included fewer people drinking after work or leaving premises earlier on weekdays. Adaptations to businesses included improving the range of no/low-alcohol drinks and food offered. Changes such as these were seen as key to minimising economic impact. Discussion and Conclusions Opposition to legislative measures that impact on commercial interests is often strong and receives significant public attention. This study found that Scottish businesses that adapted to the drink-drive limit change reported little long-term economic impact. These findings are of international relevance as potential BAC limit reductions in several other jurisdictions remain the subject of debate, including regarding the impact on business.
DOI Link: 10.1111/dar.12999
Rights: © 2019 The Authors. Drug and Alcohol Review published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License (, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
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