• Open Access

Local government alcohol policy development: case studies in three New Zealand communities

Authors

  • Brett Maclennan,

    Corresponding author
    • Injury Prevention Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
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  • Kypros Kypri,

    1. Injury Prevention Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
    2. School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia
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  • Robin Room,

    1. Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, Fitzroy, Vic., Australia
    2. School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic., Australia
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  • John Langley

    1. Injury Prevention Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
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Correspondence to: Brett Maclennan, Injury Prevention Research Unit, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand. E-mail: brett.maclennan@otago.ac.nz

Abstract

Aims

Local alcohol policies can be effective in reducing alcohol-related harm. The aim of this study was to examine local government responses to alcohol-related problems and identify factors influencing their development and adoption of alcohol policy.

Designsettings and participants

Case studies were used to examine local government responses to alcohol problems in three New Zealand communities: a rural town, a provincial city and a metropolitan city. Newspaper reports, local government documents and key informant interviews were used to collect data which were analysed using two conceptual frameworks: Kingdon's Streams model and the Stakeholder model of policy development.

Measurements

Key informant narratives were categorized according to the concepts of the Streams and Stakeholder models.

Findings

Kingdon's theoretical concepts associated with increased likelihood of policy change seemed to apply in the rural and metropolitan communities. The political environment in the provincial city, however, was not favourable to the adoption of alcohol restrictions. The Stakeholder model highlighted differences between the communities in terms of power over agenda-setting and conflict between politicians and bureaucrats over policy solutions to alcohol-related harm. These differences were reflected in the ratio of policies considered versus adopted in each location. Decisions on local alcohol policies lie ultimately with local politicians, although the policies that can be adopted by local government are restricted by central government legislation.

Conclusions

The adoption of policies and strategies to reduce alcohol-related harm may be better facilitated by an agenda-setting process where no ‘gate-keepers’ determine what is included into the agenda, and community mobilization efforts to create competitive local government elections around alcohol issues. Policy adoption would also be facilitated by more enabling central government legislation.

Ancillary