Could Charging More For Boozy Beverages Curb The Amount Of Deaths Related To Drinking?

Where there’s alcohol consumption, there are ill health effects — from liver complications to death. But what if the price of alcohol and boozy beverages was raised just a little bit, say, 10%? A new study says in those countries with a minimum alcohol price, ticking it up just that much would result in a big drop in drinking-related deaths.

The study published in the American Journal of Public Health by Canadian researchers (via Reuters) at the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia found that doing so would lead to not only fewer deaths, but long-term positive health effects as well.

In the study, researchers found that when the minimum alcohol price was increased between 2002 and 2009 in British Columbia, alcohol-related deaths dropped. When more private alcohol stores — businesses not restricted to the government’s minimum price on their wares — opened up, those deaths rose again.

Across the pond in Britain, policy makers are planning on introducing a minimum alcohol price to combat the ill effects of drinking, but here in the United States there’s no minimum alcohol price. Something to think about, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 25,000 deaths per year can be linked to alcohol poisoning.

“This study adds to the scientific evidence that, despite popular opinion to the contrary, even the heaviest drinkers reduce their consumption when minimum alcohol prices increase,” said Tim Stockwell, the study’s lead researcher.

The thinking here makes sense — if you’re a heavy drinker you might not want to keep spending as much cash to support the habit. It’s an interesting thing to think about, even if there’s no minimum price for alcohol here. It’s much like the effect of say, higher prices for cigarettes being linked to a reduction in smoking in places like New York City.

Sharp drop in drink deaths follows alcohol price rise [Reuters]