Dry, damp, and wet: correlates and presumed consequences of local alcohol ordinances

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 1988;14(4):499-514. doi: 10.3109/00952998809001567.


Local alcohol ordinances were studied in the state of Tennessee where 28% of the population resides in jurisdictions that forbid the sale of alcohol to the public. Local alcohol ordinances range from "dry" (total prohibition) to "wet" (sale of alcohol permitted through both liquor stores and bars). Two alcohol-related variables (type of alcohol ordinance and number of alcohol outlets per 100,000 population) and four population variables (population size, percent change, percent residing in urban areas, percent non-White) were studied in relationship to four dependent variables (mortality rates resulting from motor vehicle crashes, liver disease and cirrhosis, suicide, and homicide). The results of the analysis suggest that these alcohol availability measures do play a role, directly and indirectly, in causing some socially deleterious behaviors and conditions. However, we would point out that the correlations between our alcohol availability measures and some of the socially injurious behaviors were very weak. The analyses reveal that complex inter-relationships exist between the variables studied such that no easy generalizations are warranted as to the social desirability of one type of alcohol ordinance policy over another since various population and demographic variables strongly interact with the alcohol availability measures in determining their social impact.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Humans
  • Legislation as Topic*
  • Social Problems*
  • Tennessee