Increase Price or Taxes on Alcohol or Tobacco

Description of Strategy

These interventions increase the price for alcohol and tobacco products through municipal, state, or federal legislation that raises the excise tax on these products. Alcohol excise taxes affect the price of alcohol, and are intended to reduce alcohol-related harms, raise revenue, or both. Alcohol taxes are implemented at the state and federal level, and are beverage-specific (i.e., they differ for beer, wine, and spirits). These taxes are usually based on the amount of beverage purchased (not on the sales price), so their effects can erode over time due to inflation if they are not adjusted regularly (Guide to Community Preventive Services, 2007).

Increases in tobacco taxes are generally per unit. Such increases make the use of tobacco products less attractive to young people who have limited incomes and a variety of ways to spend their money (Guide to Community Preventive Services, 2012).

Discussion of Effectiveness

Alcohol

Evidence suggests that increasing the unit price of alcohol is effective in reducing excessive alcohol consumption, adolescent drinking, alcohol-impaired driving, and mortality from liver cirrhosis (Elder et al., 2010). There is also evidence that raising the price of alcohol is associated with reducing binge drinking in your adults (Nelson et al., 2013).

A systematic review (University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, 2017) found strong evidence that increases in alcohol prices, generally through taxation, decreased alcohol use and lowered levels of drinking among high school and college-aged youth. The review found higher alcohol taxes reduced motor vehicle crashes and fatalities, deaths from liver cirrhosis and alcohol-impaired driving. The review also found some evidence that increased alcohol prices may reduce sexually transmitted infections and violence.

Tobacco

Evidence suggests that increasing the unit price of tobacco through taxes is effective in reducing tobacco use among adolescents and adults and in reducing population consumption of tobacco products (Guide to Preventive Services, 2007).

Two systematic reviews (University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, 2017; Guide to Community Services, 2012) found strong evidence that increasing tobacco taxes reduces youth tobacco initiation, decreases tobacco use and increases quit rates among adolescents and youth.