Introduction and Aims
In many high-income countries, the responsibility for alcohol regulation is being devolved from central to local governments. Although seeking public input is typically required by law, there remains little empirical evidence on whether and how the public is involved. We investigated public participation in local liquor licensing and related regulation in New Zealand.
Design and Methods
In 2007, we randomly sampled 2337 residents from the national electoral roll in seven communities and invited them to complete a postal questionnaire assessing their level of general community engagement, whether they had taken action on alcohol issues, and barriers to participation they perceived or encountered.
A total of 1372 individuals responded (59% response). Fifty-two percent were current members of community organisations, and 40% had ever taken action on a local issue. Respondents considered alcohol to be a major problem locally, but only 4% had been involved in action to address a problem, whereas 18% had considered taking action. In their communities, 12% and 24%, respectively, felt they could influence the number or location of alcohol outlets. There was little variation across communities.
Discussion and Conclusion
Despite high levels of general community engagement and alcohol being widely regarded as a local problem, few community members reported acting on alcohol issues, and their self-efficacy to effect change was low. [Kypri K, Maclennan B. Public participation in local alcohol regulation: Findings from a survey of New Zealand communities. Drug Alcohol Rev 2014;33:59–63]