EXILENS - Exploring the Impact of Alcohol Licensing in England and Scotland

Funded by National Institute for Health Research.

Collaboration with Alcohol Research UK, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Bristol, University of Edinburgh and University of Sheffield.

In Scotland and England, local councils have power over alcohol licensing – that is the system by which certain premises are allowed to sell alcohol. In recent years, professionals who work on ways to improve health across the population (‘Public Health Teams’ or ‘PHT’s) have been trying to influence this licensing system. They do this by getting involved in licensing processes and encouraging licensing authorities and licence-holders to act in ways they hope will ultimately improve the health of the local population.

The aim of the study is to find out what PHTs have been doing and whether their actions have had any impact on these alcohol-related harms.

Total award value £301,355.00

People (2)


Dr James Nicholls

Dr James Nicholls

Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Health Sciences Stirling

Outputs (7)



Fitzgerald N, Mohan A, Purves R, O’Donnell R, Egan M, Nicholls J, Maani N, Smolar M, Fraser A, Briton T & Mahon L (2024) Factors influencing public health engagement in alcohol licensing in England and Scotland including legal and structural differences: comparative interview analysis. Public Health Research.


O'Donnell R, Mohan A, Purves R, Maani N, Angus C, Egan M & Fitzgerald N (2023) Mechanisms of impact of alcohol availability interventions from the perspective of 63 diverse alcohol licensing stakeholders: a qualitative interview study. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy.


Fitzgerald N, Mohan A, Maani N, Purves R, De Vocht F, Angus C, Henney M, Nicholls J, Nichols T, Crompton G, Mahon L, Mcquire C, Shortt N, Bauld L & Egan M (2023) Measuring How Public Health Stakeholders Seek to Influence Alcohol Premises Licensing in England and Scotland: The Public Health Engagement In Alcohol Licensing (PHIAL) Measure. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 84 (2), pp. 318-329.


de Vocht F, McQuire C, Ferraro C, Williams P, Henney M, Angus C, Egan M, Mohan A, Purves R, Maani N, Shortt N, Mahon L, Crompton G, O'Donnell R, Nicholls J, Bauld L & Fitzgerald N (2022) Impact of public health team engagement in alcohol licensing on health and crime outcomes in England and Scotland: A comparative timeseries study between 2012 and 2019. The Lancet Regional Health Europe, 20, Art. No.: 100450.


Fitzgerald N, Egan M, de Vocht F, Angus C, Nicholls J, Shortt N, Nichols T, Maani Hessari N, McQuire C, Purves R, Critchlow N, Mohan A, Mahon L, Sumpter C & Bauld L (2018) Exploring the impact of public health teams on alcohol premises licensing in England and Scotland (ExILEnS): procotol for a mixed methods natural experiment evaluation. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 18 (1), Art. No.: 123.