Many urban areas across the United States and globally are considering policies to create healthier and safer community environments. This report presents the rationale, evidence, and mechanisms for utilizing alcohol outlet-related zoning policy and specifically, the distance, distribution (or density), definition, and existence of alcohol outlets (i.e., bars, taverns, liquor stores) as one method to create healthier and safer communities. While aspects of this report will be applicable to other urban areas, the specific focus here is on Baltimore City, which is undergoing a comprehensive update of its zoning code for the first time since 1971. The comprehensive zoning code rewrite presents Baltimore with a unique window of opportunity to increase the health-promoting potential of neighborhoods through urban planning.
The National Prevention Strategy released by the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office in March 2011 serves as the nation’s blueprint for advancing health and wellness. It highlights the importance of including health considerations in decision-making across multiple sectors in order to create healthier and safer communities (National Prevention Council, 2011). Known as a Health in All Policies approach, public health leaders
recognize that many plans, policies, and activities in non-health sectors can still influence human health and well-being. By recognizing these links, assessing possible health impacts and including health considerations in the decision-making, a more comprehensive approach to improving and maintaining health can be realized. Such efforts include assessing possible health impacts of new rail and freight transportation projects, housing plans, family- and sick-leave policies, alcohol policies, redevelopment policies, or economic policies.