• Adolescents;
  • alcohol;
  • alcopops;
  • beverage preference;
  • epidemiology;
  • policy;
  • price;
  • tax


Aims  The aim of this study is to assess the contribution of the alcopops tax to changes in alcohol consumption and beverage preference among adolescents in Germany. We hypothesize that the decrease of alcohol intake by alcopops is substituted by an increase of alcohol intake by other alcoholic beverages.

Design  Data came from the German 2003 (n = 10 551) and 2007 (n = 10 598) cross-sectional study of the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD).

Participants  A propensity score-matched subsample of 9th and 10th graders (n = 4694) was used for the analyses.

Measurement  Alcohol consumption within the last 7 days was assessed by a beverage-specific quantity–frequency index. An individual's beverage preference was assigned for the beverage that had the highest share in total alcohol consumption. Multiple regression analyses were used to assess changes in alcohol consumption; changes in beverage preference were tested using multinomial logistic regression.

Findings  While alcopop consumption declined after the alcopops tax was implemented, consumption of spirits increased. Changes in beverage preference revealed a decrease in alcopop preference and an increase in the preference for beer and spirits.

Conclusions  Results indicate a partial substitution of alcopops by spirits and a switch in preference to beverages associated with riskier drinking patterns. Effective alcohol policies to prevent alcohol-related problems should focus upon the reduction of total alcohol consumption instead of regulating singular beverages.