Higher prices of alcoholic beverages encourage people to drink less, a new study published in the online magazine Addiction revealed. The said study analyzed 112 other studies spanning more than 40 years and found strong evidence showing that the price alcohol affects how frequent people drink and how much they consume in each drinking session.
The results of the 112 studies includes over a thousand statistical estimates which proved to be consistent in showing that the drinking habits of people are inevitably affected by alcohol prices and taxes. As the senior author of the study, Alexander C. Wagenaar, Ph.D., of the University of Florida College of Medicine, summarizes their findings: “When prices go down, people drink more, and when prices go up, people drink less.’
This new report and the finding it contributes are very timely as debates regarding propositions to raise taxes on alcoholic beverages are started all over the country.
Wagenaar noted that the consistency then found on how cost affects drinking suggest that raising alcohol prices by raising alcohol taxes can prove to be an effective means of curbing drinking. This move can be even more effective than law enforcement, school programs, and media campaigns, he added.
In addition to establishing the effect of alcohol prices on the public’s drinking behavior, the study also showed that effects of increasing alcohol tax and prices spans a broad range of drinkers, including adults as well as teenagers. Using meta-analysis, this is the first study to explore the effects of alcohol price to the general drinking population. According to Wagenaar, this generality is an important factor since the results of the study are not limited by state or country. To achieve this general scope, the researchers made use of studies written in English but which were not limited to a single country.
In the commentary published along side the report, Frank Chaloupka Ph.D. of the University of Illinois, Chicago described the study to be a “true tour de force.” “These findings provide strong rationale for using increases in alcoholic beverage taxes to promote public health by reducing drinking,” Chaloupka said.
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