Edward L. Glaeser’s call for an “experiment” to study the effects of keeping bars open later in Boston (“Boston after dark,” Op-ed, June 15) is not only dangerous and misguided, but it ignores a large body of evidence about the known effects of longer hours of alcohol sales.
For example, I co-authored a scientific review, led by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the effects of increasing hours of sale for alcohol. This review summarized findings from 16 studies and found strong evidence that increases in hours of sale, particularly of two or more hours, are linked to subsequent increases in excessive drinking and related harms.
It is scientifically unethical to perform randomized experiments that are “testing” bad outcomes, such as the car crashes, vandalism, and alcohol-related assaults and rapes that would be the unfortunate consequence of extending bar hours in a city with plenty of alcohol problems already.
Keeping bars open longer and later would represent a victory for alcohol-related industries and their lobbyists, but let’s not pretend this would be a victory for science.
The writer is on staff at Boston Medical Center and is an associate professor at Boston University’s schools of medicine and public health.