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Effects of restricting alcohol sales on fatal violence: Evidence from Sunday sales bans.

INTRODUCTION: Homicides and suicides are the second- and third-leading causes of death among young people (aged 10-24) in the US. While a substantial share of these deaths involve alcohol, evidence is needed on whether specific alcohol policies, such as day-based sales restrictions, help prevent these deaths.

METHODS: We constructed total and firearm-related homicide and suicide counts by state, year, and day-of-week from the Multiple Cause of Death Micro-data 1990-2019. Repeals of Sunday bans were taken from the Alcohol Policy Information System. Two-way fixed effects Poisson models with standard errors clustered at state-level and population offset control for state, year and day-of-the-week fixed effects and state time-varying covariates.

RESULTS: Repealing Sunday bans is associated with an increase in homicides (IRR=1.125; 95% confidence interval [CI]:1.02-1.24) and firearm homicides (IRR=1.17; 95% CI:1.03-1.33). Analyses by day-of-the-week show significant associations with homicides not only on Sundays, but also other days, consistent with delays in death. There was no significant relationship for suicides.

CONCLUSION: Restricting alcohol availability may prove a useful policy tool to reduce homicides, given that day-based restrictions are associated with changes in deaths rather than only shifting across days-of-the-week.

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