Local, state, and national policies that limit the hours that alcoholic beverages may be available for sale might be a means of reducing excessive alcohol consumption and related harms. The methods of the Guide to Community Preventive Services were used to synthesize scientific evidence on the effectiveness of such policies. All of the studies included in this review assessed the effects of increasing hours of sale in on-premises settings (in which alcoholic beverages are consumed where purchased) in high-income nations. None of the studies was conducted in the U.S. The review team's initial assessment of this evidence suggested that changes of less than 2 hours were unlikely to significantly affect excessive alcohol consumption and related harms; to explore this hypothesis, studies assessing the effects of changing hours of sale by less than 2 hours and by 2 or more hours were assessed separately.
There was sufficient evidence in ten qualifying studies to conclude that increasing hours of sale by 2 or more hours increases alcohol-related harms. Thus, disallowing extensions of hours of alcohol sales by 2 or more should be expected to prevent alcohol-related harms, while policies decreasing hours of sale by 2 hours or more at on-premises alcohol outlets may be an effective strategy for preventing alcohol-related harms. The evidence from six qualifying studies was insufficient to determine whether increasing hours of sale by less than 2 hours increases excessive alcohol consumption and related harms.