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Local governments can reduce excessive drinking by regulating the density of stores that sell alcohol, according to a new report. The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore says too few government officials use zoning laws to reduce the number of liquor stores.

The report explains how government officials can use these laws to reduce alcohol abuse, according to The Baltimore Sun. Research has shown reducing the number of locations where people can purchase alcohol helps reduce excessive drinking, the article notes.

Report author David Jernigan said excessive alcohol use is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States, causing 80,000 deaths annually. “Public health agencies are on the front lines of addressing the toll alcohol misuse has on the public’s health, and are therefore well-positioned to inform communities about the benefits of addressing alcohol outlet density in their communities,” he said in a news release.

The report appears in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

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