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Booze Taxes Lower Drinking Rates
Date:1/15/2009

Price hikes affect wide range of tipplers, study finds

THURSDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The more alcohol costs, the less people drink it.

That's the conclusion of a new analysis of data from more than 100 studies gauging the impact of higher booze pricing -- typically in the form of higher taxes -- on American drinking habits.

"The price level at which alcohol is sold affects what people drink," observed Alexander C. Wagenaar, a professor of epidemiology and health policy research at the University of Florida's College of Medicine. "And the pattern clearly appears to be that when prices go down, people drink more. And when prices go up, people drink less."

"I don't think it's that surprising," acknowledged Wagenaar. "But it is very important. Because drinking is one of the leading causes of death and medical problems and injuries and addiction. So, we are constantly trying a variety of things to prevent these consequences. And here we find overwhelming, cumulative scientific evidence involving over a hundred studies that show that there is, in fact, a good tool that, no question, shapes drinking practices."

The analysis was reported in the Jan. 15 online issue of the journal Addiction.

In the study, Wagenaar and his colleagues searched databases dating back (in some cases) to the 19th century. They selected 112 studies tracking the relationship between alcohol pricing and consumption.

For the most part, Wagenaar said, the studies examined the impact of price through the prism of taxation, because "holding everything else constant, what affects prices is tax. In fact, prices and taxes are so intimately connected, they're really one and the same thing."

His team found repeated evidence that prices/taxes affect the consumption of all types of alcoholic beverages, as well as all the drinking behavior of all types of drinkers, from young to old and from light to
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