Evaluating the effects of the Licensing Act 2003 on the characteristics of drinking occasions in England and Wales: a theory of change-guided evaluation of a natural experiment

Stevely, A. K., de Vocht, F., Neves, R. B., Holmes, J. and Meier, P. S. (2021) Evaluating the effects of the Licensing Act 2003 on the characteristics of drinking occasions in England and Wales: a theory of change-guided evaluation of a natural experiment. Addiction, 116(9), pp. 2348-2359. (doi: 10.1111/add.15451) (PMID:33620736)

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Abstract

Background and Aims: The Licensing Act 2003 deregulated trading hours in England and Wales. Previous evaluations have focused upon 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 England and Wales versus a Scottish control series, using 2001–08 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 England and Wales [finish time +11.4 minutes; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 3.6–19.2]. More occasions involved pre‐loading in England and Wales 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

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Meier, Professor Petra
Authors: Stevely, A. K., de Vocht, F., Neves, R. B., Holmes, J., and Meier, P. S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Addiction
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:0965-2140
ISSN (Online):1360-0443
Published Online:23 February 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Addiction 116(9): 2348-2359
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
313837Understanding stability and change in British drinking using 16 years of market research dataPetra MeierEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/R005257/2HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit