Alcohol taxes have clear effect on drinking

January 15, 2009

With many local and national governments currently debating proposals to raise alcohol taxes, a timely new study published online today in the February edition of Addiction journal finds that the more alcoholic beverages cost, the less likely people are to drink. And when they do drink, they drink less. After analyzing 112 studies spanning nearly four decades, researchers documented a concrete association between the amount of alcohol people drink and its cost.

"Results from over 100 separate studies reporting over 1000 distinct statistical estimates are remarkably consistent, and show without doubt that alcohol taxes and prices affect drinking," said Alexander C. Wagenaar, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology and health policy research at the University of Florida College of Medicine, and the senior author of the study. "When prices go down, people drink more, and when prices go up, people drink less."

The consistency of the association between cost and consumption indicates that using taxes to raise prices on alcohol could be among the most effective deterrents to drinking that researchers have discovered, beating things like law enforcement, media campaigns or school programmes, said Wagenaar.

The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, also determined that tax or price increases affect the broad population of drinkers, including heavy drinkers as well as light drinkers, including teens as well as adults.

Many studies have analysed how tax or price increases affect people's drinking habits, but the new study is the first to examine all of these findings as a whole, using a statistical procedure called meta-analysis. This technique allows researchers to draw conclusions that are not limited to specific policy changes or a single state or country, said Wagenaar.

To obtain their findings, the researchers scoured through decades of studies examining links between price and alcohol use. The studies were all reported in English, but not limited to any single country. The data resulting from these reports were compiled and analyzed to glean more precise answers than can be obtained from just one study, Wagenaar noted.

In a commentary in the same issue of Addiction, Frank Chaloupka, PhD, Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, describes the research as a "true tour de force," and adds, "these findings provide a strong rationale for using increases in alcoholic beverage taxes to promote public health by reducing drinking."

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Alcohol taxes are too low, have not kept up with inflation

Related Stories

Alcohol taxes are too low, have not kept up with inflation

December 13, 2017
State alcohol excise taxes are typically only a few cents per drink and have not kept pace with inflation, according to a new study in the January issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Raising those taxes, ...

Mistletoe and (a large) wine: Seven-fold increase in wine glass size over 300 years

December 13, 2017
Our Georgian and Victorian ancestors probably celebrated Christmas with more modest wine consumption than we do today - if the size of their wine glasses are anything to go by. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have ...

Experts call for age restrictions on the sale of energy drinks

December 4, 2017
Research led by Newcastle University shows that around one in three young people say that they regularly consume energy drinks, which typically contain high levels of caffeine and sugar.

How we became the heaviest drinkers in a century

October 27, 2015
I first met alcohol in the late 1980s. It was the morning after one of my parents' parties. My sister and I, aged nine or ten, were up alone. We trawled the lounge for abandoned cans. I remember being methodical: pick one ...

French lawmakers approve tax on energy drinks

October 24, 2013
French lawmakers on Thursday approved a tax on energy drinks such as Red Bull over health concerns, amid growing claims that high-caffeine products are hazardous to young people.

Researchers see significant reduction in fatal car crashes after increase in alcohol taxes

March 31, 2015
Increasing state alcohol taxes could prevent thousands of deaths a year from car crashes, say University of Florida Health researchers, who found alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes decreased after taxes on beer, wine and ...

Recommended for you

Amber-tinted glasses may provide relief for insomnia

December 15, 2017
How do you unwind before bedtime? If your answer involves Facebook and Netflix, you are actively reducing your chance of a good night's sleep. And you are not alone: 90 percent of Americans use light-emitting electronic devices, ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Office work can be a pain in the neck

December 15, 2017
Neck pain is a common condition among office workers, but regular workplace exercises can prevent and reduce it, a University of Queensland study has found.

Regular takeaways linked to kids' heart disease and diabetes risk factors

December 14, 2017
Kids who regularly eat take-away meals may be boosting their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Simulation model finds Cure Violence program and targeted policing curb urban violence

December 14, 2017
When communities and police work together to deter urban violence, they can achieve better outcomes with fewer resources than when each works in isolation, a simulation model created by researchers at the UC Davis Violence ...

Your pets can't put your aging on 'paws'

December 14, 2017
(HealthDay)—In a finding that's sure to ruffle some fur and feathers, scientists report that having a pet doesn't fend off age-related declines in physical or mental health.

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Corban
2 / 5 (1) Jan 15, 2009
Well no shit! The question, however, is TO WHAT EXTENT. Is the relationship like chocolate or cocaine? That will determine how much the tax should be.
ontheinternets
3 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2009
In consideration of recent evidence that consumption of alcohol results in beneficial effects for many people when taken in moderation, is it certain that a reduction in alcohol consumption across the board is desirable? Alcohol drinkers in my family have tended to outlive the others. I resent being taxed on the shot a day that I take in my belief that it might prevent me from dying of a heart attack.
SciTechdude
not rated yet Mar 12, 2009
I resent any kind of deliberate methods of manipulating population purchasing habits through taxation. Furthermore, these studies only show that people..BUY LESS BOOZE WHEN THE PRICE INCREASES..

duh, but it doesn't take into effect the increased rate of bootlegging/Moonshining and or the increase in substitution of drinking with other more dangerous intoxicants (Or less dangerous in terms of Pot), NOR does it take into effect cross-boarder smuggling, shipping, or otherwise cheaper acquisition of said booze when it becomes more expensive.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.