Increasing Price of Alcohol Reduces Drinking and Its Adverse Consequences

A new study has found that increasing the costs of alcohol significantly reduces the instances of alcohol-related deaths, injuries, and diseases. Researchers at the University of Florida found that raising prices of alcoholic beverage (such as through excise taxes) reduces drinking and the negative consequences that are associated with drinking.

The researchers found that doubling the average state tax on alcohol would reduce alcohol-related death by 35 percent, traffic crash deaths by 11 percent, sexually transmitted diseases by 6 percent, violence by 2 percent, and crime by 1.4 percent.

Alexander C. Wagenaar, PhD, professor of health outcomes and policy at the University of Florida College of Medicine and lead author of the study, said that their study combined information from all the published scientific research on the topic over the past 500 years, and their results show that increasing the cost of alcohol will significantly reduce many of the undesirable effects of drinking. He added that the current tax rates are decades old, and that adjusting these rates could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

For the study, the researchers analyzed 50 published research papers with 340 estimates of the effects of alcohol taxes or prices on a range of outcomes, including general deaths, alcohol-related diseases and injuries, violence, traffic crashes, STDs, crimes, suicide, other drug use, and more. They found that alcohol prices and taxes were related to all the categories expect suicide, as the data were too sparse.

The study follows a previous study in which the same researchers found that a 10 percent increase in alcohol prices resulted in a 5 percent reduction in drinking. By combining these two studies, the researchers said they were able to establish that as the price of alcohol increases, drinking and related adverse outcomes decrease. Wagenaar said these findings show that increasing alcohol taxes may be the most effective way to prevent excessive drinking.

Source: Science Daily, Increasing Taxes on Alcoholic Beverages Reduces Disease, Injury, Crime and Death Rates, Study Finds, September 26, 2010

Posted on September 27th, 2010
Posted in Alcohol Abuse

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