Effects of alcohol tax and price policies on health


April 6, 2011

The United States sees about 85,000 alcohol-related deaths a year, making pricing and regulation of the industry an important public health issue with broad consequences.

A 2010 meta-study published in the American Journal of Public Health, “Effects of Alcohol Tax and Price Policies on Morbidity and Mortality: A Systematic Review,” attempted to estimate the correlation between alcohol price and risky behavior that resulted in negative consequences. Researchers reviewed the content of 12 databases and 50 articles containing 340 separate estimates of the relationship between alcohol prices and measures of morbidity and mortality.

The study’s findings include:

  • Doubling alcohol taxes would have the effect of reducing traffic crash deaths by 11%, sexually transmitted disease by 6%, violence by 2%, and crime by 1.4%.
  • Some 60% of studies on drug use showed a significant decrease in such use associated with an increase in alcohol taxes.
  • Overall, doubling the alcohol tax would reduce alcohol-related mortality by an average of 35%.

The authors state that the evidence is “beyond any reasonable doubt” that raising the price of alcohol reduces both consumption and the rate of adverse health outcomes.

Tags: crime, cars, drugs, metastudy


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Citation: Wagenaar AC.; et al. "Effects of Alcohol Tax and Price Policies on Morbidity and Mortality: A Systematic Review," American Journal of Public Health, November, 2010, Vol.100, Issue 11, 2270-8. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.186007.