Closing Liquor Stores, Hoping to Gain Public Health

Johns Hopkins University academics entered the policy realm and successfully influenced the writing of a new zoning code in Baltimore, which will reduce the number of liquor stores in the city. Will the change result in a drop in violence? What will happen to owners whose businesses will be shuttered?

It was at least a decade ago when researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health turned their attention to Baltimore’s effort to revise its decades-old zoning code. Many research papers, meetings, and draft revisions later, the results of the policy change they brought about—a reduction in the number of liquor stores in Baltimore’s residential neighborhoods—will finally take effect on June 5.

Research has shown that there is a definitive link between the number of liquor outlets and a city’s violent crime rate. Will the communities surrounding the closed stores actually experience the desired outcome? 

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