Raising price on alcohol means fewer deaths in Canada
The rising incidence of smoking-related deaths caused the US to hike up cigarette prices--and so far the strategy appears to be working.
In Canada, a recent study shows that the same outcome might be possible when it comes to alcohol--raise the price of booze and alcohol-related death rates drop.
British Columbia starts selling more alcohol
During the study, carried out by researchers from the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, the minimum price of alcohol was raised after the province authorized alcohol to be sold in retail outlets. Previously, it could only be sold in government-owned shops.
After analyzing the alcohol-related death rates from 2002 to 2009, the researchers compared them to the prices of alcohol during each of those given years.
Between 2004 and 2009, the price of alcohol went up 18 percent.
The information that took researchers by surprise was that a 32-percent drop in alcohol-related deaths corresponded to a 10 percent rise in the minimum price for alcohol. And one year after this drop was seen, the decline of alcohol-caused fatalities was continuing to grow.
Study author Tim Stockwell writes:
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. It is hard otherwise to explain the significant changes in alcohol-related deaths observed in British Columbia."
The reduction of death rates, Stockwell notes, is much higher than the researchers expected, and not proportional to the price hike. The study also asserts that raised alcohol prices may impact heavy drinkers the most, which could explain improved mortality rates for this already health-vulnerable population.
In other parts of the word, such as New Zealand, alcohol is now cheaper than bottled water--according to a study in the New England Medical Journal.
Source: Medical News Today