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Home > How many alcohol-attributable deaths and hospital admissions could be prevented by alternative pricing and taxation policies? Modelling impacts on alcohol consumption, revenues and related harms in Canada.

Stockwell, Tim and Churchill, Samuel and Sherk, Adam and Sorge, Justin and Gruenewald, Paul . (2020) How many alcohol-attributable deaths and hospital admissions could be prevented by alternative pricing and taxation policies? Modelling impacts on alcohol consumption, revenues and related harms in Canada. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada, 40 (5-6) 153-64. doi: 10.24095/hpcdp.40.5/6.04

URL: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/re...

INTRODUCTION: In 2017, Canada increased alcohol excise taxes for the first time in over three decades. In this article, we describe a model to estimate various effects of additional tax and price policies that are predicted to improve health outcomes.

METHODS: We obtained alcohol sales and taxation data for 2016/17 for all Canadian jurisdictions from Statistics Canada and product-level sales data for British Columbia. We modelled effects of alternative price and tax policies - revenue-neutral taxes, inflation-adjusted taxes and minimum unit prices (MUPs) - on consumption, revenues and harms. We used published price elasticities to estimate impacts on consumption and revenue and the International Model for Alcohol Harms and Policies (InterMAHP) to estimate impacts on alcohol-attributable mortality and morbidity.

RESULTS: Other things being equal, revenue-neutral alcohol volumetric taxes (AVT) would have minimal influence on overall alcohol consumption and related harms. Inflation-adjusted AVT would result in 3.83% less consumption, 329 fewer deaths and 3762 fewer hospital admissions. A MUP of $1.75 per standard drink (equal to 17.05mL ethanol) would have reduced consumption by 8.68% in 2016, which in turn would have reduced the number of deaths by 732 and the number of hospitalizations by 8329 that year. Indexing alcohol excise taxes between 1991/92 and 2016/17 would have resulted in the federal government gaining approximately $10.97 billion. We estimated this could have prevented 4000-5400 deaths and 43 000-56 000 hospitalizations.

CONCLUSION: Improved public health outcomes would be made possible by (1) increasing alcohol excise tax rates across all beverages to compensate for past failures to index rates, and (2) setting a MUP of at least $1.75 per standard drink. While reducing alcohol-caused harms, these tax policies would have the added benefit of increasing federal government revenues.

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