The effects of alcohol taxes and prices on drinking and mortality are well established, but the effects of alcohol taxes on measures of alcohol-related morbidity from noninjury health outcomes have not been fully elucidated. We assess the 2 opposing effects of alcohol tax policy interventions (tax rate increase in 2002 and decrease in 2009) on alcohol-attributed diseases (AADs) in Taiwan.
Admissions data from 1996 to 2010 were retrieved from the National Health Insurance Research Database (NHIRD) claims file and analyzed in this study. Data on 430,388 men and 34,874 women aged 15 or above who had an admission due to an AAD were collected. An interrupted time series analysis examining the effects of the implementation of alcohol tax policy on quarterly age- and sex-specific incidence rates of hospitalization for AADs was employed. The same method was also used to analyze hospitalizations for alcoholic liver disease.
The teen/adult groups all showed significant (p < 0.05) changes in the adjusted incidence rate of hospitalization (AIRH) for AADs and alcoholic liver disease in 2002. Men aged 15 to 64 years showed an abrupt decline in the rate of AADs (9.1%) and in the rate of alcoholic liver disease (10.3%). A 16% reduction in the AAD rate was found in teen/adult women after the alcohol tax increase. In contrast, a 17.4% increase in the same rate was seen in the first quarter of 2010 for this group. A similar pattern was presented for the AIRH for alcoholic liver disease among women. The effect of tax intervention was not significant among the elderly.
This study provides evidence that alcohol taxation in response to international trade liberalization has resulted in an immediate reduction of AADs in Taiwan. The policy of increasing alcohol tax rates may have favorable influences on the time trend for the rate of AADs, most notably among young and middle-aged men and women.