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Friday, December 16, 2011

Does minimum pricing reduce alcohol consumption? The experience of a Canadian province

Minimum alcohol prices in British Columbia have been adjusted intermittently over the past 20 years. The present study estimates impacts of these adjustments on alcohol consumption.

Time series and longitudinal models of aggregate alcohol consumption with price and other economic data as independent variables.

British Columbia (BC), Canada.

Data on alcohol prices and sales for different beverages were provided by the BC Liquor Distribution Branch for 1989 to 2010. Data on household income were sourced from Statistics Canada.

Longitudinal estimates suggest that a 10% increase in the minimum price of an alcoholic beverage reduced its consumption relative to other beverages by 16.1% (P < 0.001). Time series estimates indicate that a 10% increase in minimum prices reduced consumption of spirits and liqueurs by 6.8% (P = 0.004), wine by 8.9% (P = 0.033), alcoholic sodas and ciders by 13.9% (P = 0.067), beer by 1.5% (P = 0.043) and all alcoholic drinks by 3.4 % (P = 0.007).

Increases in minimum prices of alcoholic beverages can substantially reduce alcohol consumption.

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