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Skepticism, Medicine and Science News

High Alcohol Taxes Reduces Deaths

A new study confirms what we have long suspected, that increasing alcohol taxes reduces alcohol-related deaths. The study was recently published in the American Journal of Public Health, and found that an increase in alcohol taxes was followed by an immediate reduction in deaths due to diseases such as liver disease, oral or breast cancers, and alcohol poisoning. Raising taxes had, in fact, as much as two to four times the effect of other prevention methods such as campaigns and school programs. 

The study looked at two separate incidents where the tax on alcohol was raised in Alaska, one in 1983 an the other in 2002. Alcohol-related deaths were subsequently measured, and the researchers found a 29% decrease after 1983, and an 11% decrease after 2002. Moreover, they also found that the drop in alcohol-related deaths was maintained over the following years, showing that the effect was long-term. 

The study did not consider deaths due to alcohol-related car accidents, which I find disappointing. I would imagine that lower consumption of alcohol would also lead to fewer car accidents, in which case the benefit of tax increases would be even greater. 

So, I hope people in Norway stop whining about the country’s high tax on alcohol, and realize that it is for our own good. 

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November 15, 2008 - Posted by | General Science, Medicine | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Yes, increased tax on all alcohol, great idea !!!
    Needs to be world wide………!
    /sjg

    Comment by Sheila Joyce Gibbs | November 15, 2008 | Reply

  2. I think its a good idea. I think they should have last call at 11:00pm and not sell alchol until 10:00am or even 11:00am. Who the heck needs to drink at 7:00 am anyway. If we could cut down on the cut off limit early maybe we could save people from drinking and driving or hey maybe even a life. Let it be thier own or someone elses.

    Comment by Dorothy Ackman | November 26, 2008 | Reply

  3. Excise taxes are patently unfair. Why should I be penalized for drinking responsibly? Where does the money (or, I should say, MY money) go? Sure, higher taxes reduce deaths, but if that money goes toward funding a war effort, what’s the net loss of life? Yes, fatalities decrease in areas where alcohol is more expensive because — and here’s a shocker — PEOPLE CAN’T AFFORD TO DRINK AS MUCH! Kind of like preventable fatalities increase with the cost of healthcare, or childhood obesity increases with the number of McDonalds per capita. The question here is one of rights: what right does a government have to tax me for enjoying a perfectly legal (and, as studies have shown, potentially very healthy) beverage?

    Comment by thebeerphilosopher | March 10, 2009 | Reply

  4. “Yes, fatalities decrease in areas where alcohol is more expensive because — and here’s a shocker — PEOPLE CAN’T AFFORD TO DRINK AS MUCH!”

    Yeah…that’s kinda the whole point…

    “Where does the money (or, I should say, MY money) go? Sure, higher taxes reduce deaths, but if that money goes toward funding a war effort, what’s the net loss of life?”

    You’re assuming all the money inevitably is used to fund warfare, which is simply not true. Also, by your reasoning one could argue that no one should pay any tax at all, because some of that money will end up funding the war in iraq, thus resulting in lost lives.

    Also, you refer to it as “your money”. Well guess what, if you want the government to provide infrastructure, public space, health care, jobs and so on, they need some money. You can’t run a country on rainbows and butterflies.

    Comment by Johannes | March 11, 2009 | Reply

  5. “Yeah…that’s kinda the whole point… ”

    Right. We all knew that would happen. So why is it newsworthy?

    “You’re assuming all the money inevitably is used to fund warfare, which is simply not true. Also, by your reasoning one could argue that no one should pay any tax at all, because some of that money will end up funding the war in iraq, thus resulting in lost lives.”

    I’m not assuming anything; I said IF. And furthermore, you don’t know that that money won’t be rolled into the Iraqi war fund. And yes, one could argue on that logic that no one could pay any tax at all, but that doesn’t mean the logic is unsound. Besides, no one is talking about not paying taxes. We’re talking about not being taxed in the first place. Big difference.

    “Also, you refer to it as “your money”. Well guess what, if you want the government to provide infrastructure, public space, health care, jobs and so on, they need some money. You can’t run a country on rainbows and butterflies.”

    Thanks for that. I happen to be a liberal, so I’m well-versed in the whole pink-fluffy-bunnies thing. But excuse me for wondering where my money is going. If you want to set up a tax to fund anti-teen drinking education campaigns, then go ahead and tack on a couple of cents on my six-pack. But if we’re just looking for ways to generate revenue, screw that. Cut spending first, then come ask me for more of — I’ll say it again — MY money.

    Comment by thebeerphilosopher | March 11, 2009 | Reply


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