Minimum pricing a promising strategy to reduce alcohol harm, study from Canada
New study confirms the impacts on alcohol consumption of minimum alcohol prices in a province of Canada.
18 October 2012. The Canadian province of Saskatchewan altered its minimum pricing schedule in quite a comprehensive way to reflect the strength of drinks within each beverage type - previously the rates had been "flat" being just charged at a dollar rate per litre of beverage.
The study reports shifts in consumption of different beverages and total consumption in response to these changes.
The team of researchers found that a 10% increase in minimum prices significantly reduced consumption of beer by 10.06%, spirits by 5.87%, wine by 4.58%, and all beverages combined by 8.43%. Consumption of coolers decreased significantly by 13.2%, cocktails by 21.3%, and liqueurs by 5.3%. Larger effects were observed for purely off-premise sales (e.g., liquor stores) than for primarily on-premise sales (e.g., bars, restaurants). Consumption of higher strength beer and wine declined the most.
A 10% increase in minimum price was associated with a 22.0% decrease in consumption of higher strength beer (> 6.5% alcohol/volume) versus 8.17% for lower strength beers. The neighboring province of Alberta showed no change in per capita alcohol consumption before and after the intervention.
The study concluded that minimum pricing is a promising strategy for reducing the public health burden associated with hazardous alcohol consumption and that pricing that reflects the percentage of alcohol content of drinks can shift consumption toward lower alcohol content beverage types.
Click here to download the study.