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Does minimum pricing reduce alcohol consumption? The experience of a Canadian province

Authors

  • Tim Stockwell,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
    2. Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
      Tim Stockwell, Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, University Victoria, PO Box 1700 STN CSC, Victoria, BC, Canada V8Y 2E4. E-mail: timstock@uvic.ca
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  • M. Christopher Auld,

    1. Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
    2. Department of Economics, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
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  • Jinhui Zhao,

    1. Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
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  • Gina Martin

    1. Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada
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  • NB: The above address and phone number applies for all co-authors.

Tim Stockwell, Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, University Victoria, PO Box 1700 STN CSC, Victoria, BC, Canada V8Y 2E4. E-mail: timstock@uvic.ca

ABSTRACT

Aims  Minimum alcohol prices in British Columbia have been adjusted intermittently over the past 20 years. The present study estimates impacts of these adjustments on alcohol consumption.

Design  Time–series and longitudinal models of aggregate alcohol consumption with price and other economic data as independent variables.

Setting  British Columbia (BC), Canada.

Participants  The population of British Columbia, Canada, aged 15 years and over.

Measurements  Data on alcohol prices and sales for different beverages were provided by the BC Liquor Distribution Branch for 1989–2010. Data on household income were sourced from Statistics Canada.

Findings   Longitudinal estimates suggest that a 10% increase in the minimum price of an alcoholic beverage reduced its consumption relative to other beverages by 16.1% (P < 0.001). Time–series estimates indicate that a 10% increase in minimum prices reduced consumption of spirits and liqueurs by 6.8% (P = 0.004), wine by 8.9% (P = 0.033), alcoholic sodas and ciders by 13.9% (P = 0.067), beer by 1.5% (P = 0.043) and all alcoholic drinks by 3.4% (P = 0.007).

Conclusions  Increases in minimum prices of alcoholic beverages can substantially reduce alcohol consumption.

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