Hospital admission rates for alcoholic intoxication after policy changes in the canton of Geneva, Switzerland
In February, 2005, the canton of Geneva in Switzerland prohibited the off-premise sale of alcoholic beverages between 9pm and 7am, and banned their sale in gas stations and video stores. The aim of this study is to assess the impact of this policy change on hospital admission rates for alcoholic intoxication.
An interrupted time series analysis of this natural experiment was performed with data on hospitalisations for acute alcoholic intoxication during the 2002–2007 period. The canton of Geneva was treated as the experimental group, while all other Swiss cantons were used as the control group.
In the experimental site, the policy change was found to have a significant effect on admission rates among adolescents and young adults. Depending on the age group, hospitalisation rates for alcoholic intoxication fell by an estimated 25–40% as the result of restricted alcohol availability.
Modest restrictions on opening hours and the density of off-premise outlets were found to be of relevance for public health in the canton of Geneva. In light of this finding, policy makers should consider such action as a promising approach to alcohol prevention.