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Increasing Costs of Alcohol can Reduce Consumption, Study Finds

Update Date: Jan 11, 2016 10:40 AM EST

Making alcohol more expensive can deter people from buying and drinking alcohol, a new study out of Australia is reporting.

"Heavy alcohol consumption is responsible for major harms in our community, including cancer of the mouth and throat, bowel in men and breast in women," Cancer Council Victoria Chief Executive Officer Todd Harper said reported by Medical Xpress. "Each year 3000 cases of cancer in Australia are attributed to the long-term consumption of alcohol. When alcohol prices are increased through taxation, consumers drink less, and reduce their risk of developing certain types of cancer."

In this study, researchers from Monash University in Melbourne analyzed the alcohol consumption patterns within a one-year time span in people from 885 Victorian households. Data included how must people spent on alcohol and how the alcohol was taxed.

The team wanted to see if changing the alcohol tax system could affect individual drinking rates. They tested the effects of two different taxes: creating a $1 minimum per standard drink or putting a tax on all products that are dependent on alcohol content.

The researchers found that increasing the cost of the cheapest alcohol available can reduce consumption levels by as much as 11.5 standard drinks per week in low-income wine drinkers.

"We found that these alternative policies can lead to a reduction in heavy drinking, when compared to current alcohol taxation policy," said one of the study authors, Brian Vandenberg, who is a PhD candidate in the Center for Health Economics at Monash University.

In Australia, there are 16 different tax rates on beer, spirits and other alcohol not including wine and cider, which are taxed based on their value.

Reducing alcohol consumption can improve health and reduce risks of health conditions associated with heavy drinking.

The study was published in the journal, Alcohol and Alcoholism.

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