Pricing policies and discounting restrictions can reduce alcohol consumption

January 01, 0001

Pricing policies and discounting restrictions can reduce alcohol consumption

Although pricing policies for alcohol are known to be effective, little is known about how specific interventions affect health-care costs and health-related quality-of-life outcomes for different types of drinkers. The researchers from the UK assessed effects of alcohol pricing and promotion policy options in various population subgroups.

General price increases were effective for reduction of consumption, health-care costs, and health-related quality of life losses in all population subgroups. Minimum pricing policies can maintain this level of effectiveness for harmful drinkers while reducing effects on consumer spending for moderate drinkers. Total bans of supermarket and off-license discounting are effective but banning only large discounts has little effect. Young adult drinkers aged 18—24 years are especially affected by policies that raise prices in pubs and bars.

The researchers concluded: "Minimum pricing policies and discounting restrictions might warrant further consideration because both strategies are estimated to reduce alcohol consumption, and related health harms and costs, with drinker spending increases targeting those who incur most harm."

This may also initially increase tax revenue.

For the full abstract, click here.

The Lancet 375(9723):1355-1364, 17 April 2010
© 2010 Elsevier Ltd
Estimated effect of alcohol pricing policies on health and health economic outcomes in England: an epidemiological model. Robin C Purshouse, Petra S Meier, Alan Brennan, Karl B Taylor and Rachid Rafia. Correspondence to Robin Purshouse:

Category: Z. Social Problems. Keywords: alcohol, price, policies, health, economics, epidemiological model, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 7 May 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.