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How does the price of alcohol affect levels of harm?

Given that higher alcohol prices reduce alcohol consumption, and lower alcohol consumption generally reduces health risks,* we have strong reason to expect that higher alcohol prices should improve health outcomes.

A number of academic studies have addressed this relationship directly. Wagenaar et al carried out another meta-analysis of 50 articles, finding that doubling alcohol taxes was associated with a range of positive outcomes:[1]

  • 35% fall in alcohol-related mortality
  • 11% fall in traffic collisions
  • 6% fall in sexually transmitted diseases
  • 5% fall in suicides
  • 2% fall in violence
  • 1% fall in crime

All the studies examining mortality, traffic accidents and sexually transmitted diseases found that these fell as taxes rose, though the evidence on violence, crime and suicide was mixed.

* Please see our Health impacts factsheet for more information.

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[1] Wagenaar A C et al (2010)., ‘Effects of Alcohol Tax and Price Policies on Morbidity and Mortality: A Systematic Review’, American Journal of Public Health 100:11, pp. 2,270–8