Estimating the impact of the minimum alcohol price on consumers’ alcohol expenditure in the Northern Territory, Australia

Nicholas Taylor, Peter Miller, Kerri Coomber, Michael Livingston, Heng Jiang, Penny Buykx, Debbie Scott, Ryan Baldwin, Tanya Chikritzhs

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Objective: From October 2018, the Northern Territory (NT) government introduced a minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol of $1.30 per standard drink. We assessed industry claims that the MUP penalised all drinkers by examining the alcohol expenditure of drinkers not targeted by the policy. Methods: Participants recruited by a market research company using phone sampling (n=766, 15% consent fraction) completed a survey in 2019, post-MUP. Participants reported their drinking patterns and their preferred liquor brand. Estimated annual alcohol expenditure for each participant was calculated by collating the cheapest advertised price per standard drink of their preferred brand pre-and-post-MUP. Participants were grouped as consuming within the Australian drinking guidelines (“moderate”) or over them (“heavy”). Results: Based on post-MUP drinking patterns, moderate consumers had an average annual alcohol expenditure of AU$327.66 (CIs=325.61, 329.71) pre-MUP, which increased by AU$3.07 (0.94%) post-MUP. Heavy consumers had an estimated average annual alcohol expenditure of AU$2898.82 (CIs=2877.06, 2920.58) pre-MUP, which increased by AU$37.12 (1.28%). Conclusions: The MUP policy was associated with an increase of AU$3.07 in alcohol annual expenditure for moderate consumers. Implications for public health: This article provides evidence that counters the alcohol industry's messaging, enabling an evidence-based discussion in an area dominated by vested interest.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100053
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • alcohol
  • consumption
  • expenditure
  • floor price
  • minimum unit price

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