Alcohol misuse and abuse can have a powerful effect on the health of individuals, their families, and their communities.
Public health professionals track alcohol-related data in order to identify areas of need and plan programs and policies to address problems.
Below are frequently asked questions on the alcohol-related data we host.
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How is alcohol use related to environmental health?
In the Wisconsin Tracking Program, we view “environmental” broadly to include not only the air we breathe and the water we drink, but also our built environment: the businesses, parks, schools, bike paths, and other surroundings that make up our communities. Places that sell alcohol are part of that built environment and can help us understand how alcohol impacts our health and our communities. Alcohol also increases risk of mouth, liver, throat, colorectal, voice box, female breast, and esophagus cancers; data on these cancers are also hosted on the Tracking data portal.
How can tracking alcohol-related measures improve public health?
Communities can use these data to get a better understanding of how alcohol impacts their residents. With Environmental Public Health Tracking, we can monitor alcohol-related measures over time and use that information to educate communities, plan programs, and implement policies.
What is the data source?
Data related to alcohol outlet density come from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue and are based on the liquor licenses issued and reported to them. Data related to hospitalizations come from inpatient hospital discharge records. Data related to deaths are from Wisconsin resident death certificate files. See our data details page to learn more about how these measures are calculated.
Which alcohol-related measures does Wisconsin Tracking have on the portal?
Below is a list of alcohol-related measures. See our data details page for more information about how these measures are calculated.
- Alcohol Outlet Density
- Total number of licenses
- People per license
- Crude rate of alcohol licensure per 500 people
- Number of license types (Class A, Class B, Class C, Class Unknown; see considerations below for more information about class type)
- We are working on adding the following data: alcohol-related hospitalizations, alcohol-related suicide deaths, alcohol-related poisoning deaths, and alcohol-related unintentional fall deaths. To be notified when these data are live, please subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.
What are some considerations for interpreting the data?
Please read the data details for more information about the datasets and how specific measures are calculated.
- Alcohol Outlet Density Considerations
- Data are a point-in-time estimate. That means the data are shared once annually and, at any given time throughout the year, a new license could be issued or an old one not renewed.
- Per Wis. Stat. § 125.04(g), type A licenses includes Class "A" retail sale of beer for consumption off the premises (AB); "Class A” retail sale of liquor, including wine, for consumption off the premises (AL); "Class A" retail sale of cider for consumption off the premises (AC); and "Class A” retail sale of beer and liquor, including wine, for consumption off the premises (ALB). Type B includes Class “B” retail sale of beer for consumption on or off the premises (BB); "Class B” retail sale of liquor, including wine, for consumption on the premises and wine in original sealed container for consumption off the premises (BL); and "Class B“ beer and liquor (BLB). Type C is "Class C” wine for consumption only on the premises and carryout of a single opened and resealed bottle if sold with a meal.
- Some establishments are issued more than one type of liquor license. As such, the number of licenses does not equal the number of establishments serving or selling alcohol in a community.
- Differences in alcohol outlet density by county or municipality are difficult to interpret. Rural counties may have a higher number of outlets relative to population, but these outlets may be small and serve fewer people than a single outlet in a large city. However, this higher number of outlets relative to the population may indicate greater accessibility. Moreover, county level data may mask great variations in density for various municipalities within a given county. Read more about assessing alcohol outlet density in the 2016 Wisconsin Epidemiological Profile on Alcohol and Other Drugs.
- Hospitalization Considerations
- The number of alcohol-attributable hospitalizations are estimates based on the CDC's Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) methodology. Learn more on our data details page.
- Because these data are based on estimates of hospital discharges, some cases are not captured. Examples might include those who do not receive medical care, those whose care does not result in hospitalization, and those who die in settings such as ambulances, nursing homes, or at home.
- Data from years 2000 to present include hospitalizations among Wisconsin residents who were treated in Minnesota hospitals. In addition, data from years 2005 to present include hospitalizations among Wisconsin residents who were treated in Iowa hospitals.
- These data do not include inpatient admissions or emergency department visits at hospitals owned by the federal government, such as Veterans Administration hospitals.
- Death Consideration
The death certificate dataset may be missing a small number of cases where the decedent is a Wisconsin resident but died in another state.
Where can I learn more about alcohol and public health?
- University of Wisconsin–Madison – Alcohol Policy Project
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services – Substance Use: Prevention and Healthy Living
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services – Substance Use: Partner/Provider Resources
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services – Wisconsin Epidemiological Profile on Alcohol and Other Drugs, 2016
- Wisconsin Cancer Council - Alcohol and Cancer
- Wisconsin Cancer Council - Addressing High-Risk Drinking to Reduce Cancer Burden in Wisconsin
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Alcohol and Public Health
- Alliance for Wisconsin Youth