Alcohol Taxes Are Cost-Effective Ways to Curb Abuse


Implementing higher taxes on alcohol is one of the best — and most cost-effective — ways to cut the rate of alcohol abuse, according to researchers at the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the World Health Organization (WHO). Their study was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, a publication of Rutgers University in New Jersey.

The WHO researchers and an academic center developed a statistical model to determine which of five strategies to control alcohol use could be the most cost-effective public health policy to cut harmful alcohol consumption, which accounts for more than 5 percent of deaths and 4 percent of all diseases worldwide. They determined that a 50 percent increase in taxes worked into the price of alcohol products could cost less than $100 for each healthy year of life gained overall and would add 500 healthy years of life for every 1 million people.

In addition to higher taxes, strategies examined by the researchers include:

  • Restricting hours of operation for off-premise alcohol retailers
  • Implementing strong restrictions or bans on alcohol advertising
  • Stronger enforcement of blood-alcohol concentration laws by having more sobriety checkpoints
  • Increased alcohol use screening and intervention by primary care doctors

Sourced from: Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs