Substantial attention has been directed toward concerns about alcohol-related public health problems – which include violence, binge drinking, automobile crashes, and unplanned or unwanted sexual encounters. Alcohol consumption has consequences for the health and well - being of those who drink and, by extension, the lives of those around them (US DHHS, 2000). Various environmental factors that influence alcohol use and misuse include the location, price, advertising, and ease of access of alcohol sold in commercial and government stores; alcohol taxes; and enforcement of laws related to minors’ access to alcohol from social and commercial sources. Issues related to promotion of alcohol sales to ethnic/racial minorities and college students have examined targeted advertisement and alcohol outlet density (Alaniz, 1998; Romley, Cohen, Ringel and Sturm, 2007; Weitzman et al., 2003).
Many studies have focused on the specific environmental indicator of "outlet density," which is typically measured by objective means – using liquor license data combined with geospatial analysis (Weitzman et al., 2003; Romley et al., 2007; Gruenewald et al., 2002; Gorman et al., 2001). Associations have been found between alcohol outlet density and violence (Gorman, Zhu & Horel, 2005; Cohen et al., 2006); drinking and driving (Gruenewald et al., 2002); and drinking-related problems of college students. In light of the cumulative body of evidence related to alcohol outlet density, the Task Force on Community Preventive Services has recommended "the use of regulatory authority (e.g., though regulatory and zoning requirements) to limit alcohol outlet density for the prevention of alcohol consumption and related harms" (Community Guide Task Force, 3/12/07).