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Public alcohol availability restrictions

Health Factors: Alcohol & Drug Use
Decision Makers: Local Government State Government
Evidence Rating: Expert Opinion
Population Reach: 10-19% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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A variety of policies can be used to restrict the availability and use of alcohol at public venues such as concerts, street fairs, and sporting events, as well as in public spaces such as parks and beaches. Such restrictions can be implemented voluntarily by event organizers or through local legislation. Efforts range from total bans on consumption to restrictions on the times or places alcohol can be consumed.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced excessive drinking
Reduced underage drinking
Reduced alcohol-related harms

Evidence of Effectiveness

Restricting alcohol use and availability at public events and on public property is a suggested strategy to reduce excessive drinking and underage drinking (IOM-Underage drinking 2004, UMN-Alcohol epidemiology, Toomey 2008, Toomey 2005). Available evidence suggests that banning or restricting alcohol sales at public events may reduce alcohol availability for youth and may also reduce alcohol-related problems such as traffic crashes, vandalism, fighting, and other public disturbances (UMN-Alcohol epidemiology, RAND-Imm 2007). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects (Toomey 2005, Toomey 2008).


United States

Sports stadiums, music festivals, and public parks in urban and rural areas around the country limit the amount of alcohol that can be purchased at one time, the locations where alcohol may be sold, and the times when alcohol may be sold. Many organizations and event organizers also make an effort to ensure that staff are trained to comply with these policies (UMN-Alcohol epidemiology).


Wisconsin does not currently have state laws limiting alcohol sales or use on public property. However, community events require Temporary Class B licenses. Communities can vary the conditions of obtaining such licenses (WI DOR-Alcohol/tobacco). 

Implementation Resources

HSNI-Alcohol management - Helping Services for Northeast Iowa (HSNI). Alcohol management for fairs and festivals. Increase your profits. Decrease your problems. Prevent underage drinking. Dubuque: Helping Services for Northeast Iowa (HSNI); 2012. Accessed on February 5, 2016
SAA-Alcohol at public events - Stop Alcohol Abuse Town Hall Meetings (SAA). Restricted sales of alcohol at public events. Accessed on November 9, 2015

Citations - Evidence

IOM-Underage drinking 2004 - Institute of Medicine (IOM), National Research Council (NRC), Committee on Developing a Strategy to Reduce and Prevent Underage Drinking, Board on Children, Youth, and Families (BCYF). Reducing underage drinking: A collective responsibility. (Bonnie RJ, O’Connell ME, eds.). Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2004. Accessed on February 24, 2016
RAND-Imm 2007 - Imm P, Chinman M, Wandersman A, et al. Preventing underage drinking: Using Getting To Outcomes™ with the SAMHSA strategic prevention framework to achieve results. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation; 2007: Technical Report 403. Accessed on November 9, 2015
Toomey 2005 - Toomey TL, Erickson DJ, Patrek W, Fletcher LA, Wagenaar AC. Illegal alcohol sales and use of alcohol control policies at community festivals. Public Health Reports. 2005;120(2):165-73. Accessed on November 9, 2015
Toomey 2008 - Toomey TL, Erickson DJ, Lenk KM, Kilian GR. Likelihood of illegal alcohol sales at professional sport stadiums. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2008;32(11):1859-64. Accessed on November 9, 2015
UMN-Alcohol epidemiology - University of Minnesota Alcohol Epidemiology Program. Alcohol control policy descriptions. Accessed on February 4, 2016

Citations - Implementation

UMN-Alcohol epidemiology - University of Minnesota Alcohol Epidemiology Program. Alcohol control policy descriptions. Accessed on February 4, 2016
WI DOR-Alcohol/tobacco - State of Wisconsin Department of Revenue (WI DOR). Wisconsin alcohol beverage and tobacco laws for retailers. Madison: State of Wisconsin Department of Revenue (WI DOR); 2012:Publication 302. Accessed on December 12, 2015

Page Last Updated

February 19, 2013