It may seem like a drag when the bartender rings that bell and shouts, “Last call for alcohol!” But in addition to a legion of weary bartenders, everyone else may benefit from an earlier closing time, according to a new study in the journal Addiction.
In 2008, the Australian city of Newcastle changed it’s pub closing ordinance to 3:30 a.m., with a 1:30 a.m. “lockout” time after which new patrons could not enter any bar. As a result, the rate of assault in the city’s central business district fell by 37% — from an average of 33 per month to 22.
The study’s authors say the findings do not simply suggest a displacement of assaults to neighboring towns or earlier times: the rate of assault before 3:30 a.m. also dropped significantly after the closing times were imposed. (More on Time.com: Even More Evidence for the Health Benefits of Drinking)
The evidence may help fuel a growing movement in Australia to impose nationwide restrictions on serving alcohol in order to reduce alcohol-related violence. The study’s author noted successful alcohol cutoffs in place in other cities.
“One has to wonder what sort of reduction in harm would occur if licensed premises across Australia were to cease serving alcohol at 2 a.m., as is required, for instance, everywhere in California, and how many serious injuries could be prevented,” Dr. Kypros Kypri, lead researcher of the study and an associate professor of health at Newcastle University, said in a statement.
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