Expansion of Liquor Licenses to Grocery and Convenience Stores Could Increase Drinking in Youth

Health impact assessment tool helps policymakers understand potential health impacts of changes to Kansas Liquor Control Act

3 Min Read

Jun 19, 2014


Tatiana Y. Lin, M.A.,

Sarah M. Hartsig, M.S.,

Sheena L. Smith, M.P.P.,

Catherine Shoults, M.P.H.


The staff at the Kansas Health Institute (KHI) is pleased to announce the completion of our second statewide health impact assessment (HIA). This study examined the potential positive and negative health effects of proposed legislation that expands liquor licenses to grocery and convenience stores in Kansas.

Substitute for House Bill 2556 would put a 10-year cap on the current number of retail liquor licenses in the state at 753. In 2019, license holders would be eligible to transfer their license to grocery and convenience stores located at least one-half mile from a current retail alcohol outlet. In 2024, the license cap would be lifted and could result in 3,015 licensed outlets across the state.

The study analyzed eight health issues related to this bill including alcohol consumption; alcohol consumption in youth; Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests; alcohol-related traffic accidents; alcohol-related traffic deaths; alcohol-related traffic deaths in youth; crime, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).

Detailed key factors that influence health

Key findings from the study showed that more alcohol outlets may result in:

    • Slight increase in overall consumer consumption after more licenses become available (after 2024), but is not likely to result in a higher number of DUIs and alcohol-related traffic accidents; however, there may be a slight increase in some types of crime (domestic child abuse and violence) and STDs.
    • Increased youth consumption, which could result in more alcohol-related traffic deaths and STDs for this population.

The magnitude of negative health effects will depend largely on the change in density of alcohol outlets.

Evidence-based recommendations were developed to mitigate the potential negative health effects of the proposed changes to the law, which policymakers and relevant agencies could consider:

    • Track changes in number and density of off-premise alcohol outlets by type (i.e., grocery, convenience stores).
    • Maintain geographical restrictions on license issuance after 2024.
    • Maintain limits on days and hours of alcohol sales.
    • Increase sobriety checkpoints, especially in areas where there is an increased density of off-premise retail alcohol outlets.
    • Educate students about risky behaviors, including drinking and unsafe sex.
    • Strengthen enforcement of laws prohibiting sales to minors.

The KHI staff conducted their research by reviewing relevant literature, analyzing secondary data and conducting interviews with key stakeholders involved with the issue. The interviewees included large and small grocery and liquor store owners, public health practitioners, academic researchers and others. Their reactions to the proposed legislation were mixed. Some argued that sales of beer and wine in grocery and convenience stores could hurt small liquor store business, resulting in financial hardship and increased stress. Others said that small grocery stores needed to be able to sell alcohol products in order to keep up with the bigger “box stores.” Whether or not consumption increases if the law passes, interviewees stated there may be some shift in sales, which could affect jobs and tax revenues.

In addition to the research for this report, the KHI team provided neutral testimony in committee hearings about early findings of this HIA during the 2014 Legislative session.

The Kansas Health Institute has now completed three HIAs as part of its mission to inform policymakers. KHI was recently featured in the nation’s first textbook on the topic, Health Impact Assessment in the United States.

This project is supported by a grant from the National Network of Public Health Institutes with support from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Access these publications in the Documents & Downloads section.

About Kansas Health Institute

The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.

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