Empowering communities: An interactive tobacco and alcohol outlet density webmap for Scotland

Today we are launching an interactive webmap that allows users to map tobacco and alcohol outlet density, and related health outcomes, for neighbourhoods (‘datazones‘) across Scotland.  The underlying data we have collected and assembled can also be freely downloaded for use.  Our research from Scotland shows that outlet density matters for health:

  • areas with the highest alcohol outlet density have double the death rate of those with the lowest densities (see our blog postreport and infographic)
  • adolescents living in areas with the highest tobacco outlet density are almost 50% more likely to smoke than those with the lowest (see our blog post, paper and infographic).

ALCOHOL OUTLET DATA UPDATED 25 JUNE 2015:  Previous to this date the alcohol outlet density data had used an alternate measure of density than outlets per km2, resulting in values that were typically 30-40% lower than the actual value.  Whilst the figures have changed the general picture has not: an area of high density remains an area of high density.  The rest of the data are unaffected.

webmap

Highlighting the links between alcohol and tobacco availability and health is important because tobacco and alcohol use are two of the most important causes of preventable ill-health and death in Scotland.

We wanted to make the data on outlet density and related health outcomes available to everybody. We believe in data sharing and in empowering local people so that they can play an active role in shaping healthy and liveable communities. We spent over 9 months gathering these data, largely because alcohol outlet addresses had to be obtained from each of the licensing boards of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, and were provided in different formats. We obtained funding from various sources to collate and map these data so that everybody can use them, but we would argue that in future they should be collected centrally and should be more readily available to local people, to allow them to become involved in the decision making process.

In a recent parliamentary briefing, Alcohol Focus Scotland argue that physical environments, as well as individual factors, shape alcohol consumption. They add that to be successful, any alcohol strategy must address the way in which local environments can enable or constrain drinking behaviour.  Given our research we know that the local retail environment is important. Via our webmap local community groups, individuals and decision makers will now have the data on their local areas enabling them to get more involved in the licensing process.

We hope that you will find this website useful.  Please email us at emailwith any feedback.

Note: This website was created in partnership with Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS) and Action on Smoking and Health Scotland (ASH Scotland). The original research was funded by the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy and we have received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to publicise our research and make it more accessible to the public and policy makers. 

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