Can harms associated with high intensity drinking be reduced by increasing the price of alcohol?

Joshua Byrnes, Anthony Shakeshaft, Dennis Petrie, Christopher Doran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction and Aims: Increasing the price of alcohol is consistently shown to reduce the average level of consumption. However, the evidence for the effect of increasing the price on high-intensity drinking is both limited and equivocal. The aim of this analysis is to estimate the effect of changes in price on patterns of consumption. Design and Methods: Self-reported patterns of alcohol consumption and demographic data were obtained from the Australian National Drug Strategy Household Surveys, conducted in 2001, 2004 and 2007. A pooled three-stage least-squares estimator was used to simultaneously model the impact of the price on the frequency (measured in days) of consuming no, low, moderate and high quantities of alcohol. Results: A 1% increase in the price of alcohol was associated with a statistically significant increase of 6.41days per year on which no alcohol is consumed (P≤0.049), and a statistically significant decrease of 7.30days on which 1-4 standard drinks are consumed (P≤0.021). There was no statistically significant change for high or moderate-intensity drinking. Conclusions: For Australia, and countries with a similar pattern of predominant high-intensity drinking, taxation policies that increase the price of alcohol and are very efficient at decreasing harms associated with reduced average consumption may be relatively inefficient at decreasing alcohol harms associated with high-intensity drinking. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-30
Number of pages4
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Tax
  • Policy
  • Australia

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