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Higher Alcohol Price Lowers its Related Deaths

Update Date: Feb 07, 2013 03:20 AM EST

Alcohol is known to be one of the foremost causes of mortality worldwide, though an increase in the price of alcohol in British Columbia has significantly reduced the rates of mortality, a study finds.

The research was led by Dr. Tim Stockwell, director of the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia and was published in the online journal Addiction.

The research was done in British Columbia, Canada, between the years 2002 and 2009, and found a significant lowering in alcohol-related deaths following an increase in the price of alcohol. However, the mortality rate increased when the number of private liquor stores went higher.

Alcohol mortality is either wholly alcohol attributable (AA), acute or chronic, and the researchers listed these cases and compared them with the rise in alcohol prices stipulated by the government. The mortality scenario has worsened with the introduction of privately-owned liquor stores which have increased alcohol sales, as previously it was only available in government-regulated stores.

The researchers found a significant reduction of AA deaths by 32 percent when the alcohol price increased by 10 percent. Within two to three years of price increase, there was a reduction in chronic alcohol deaths as well. All the three alcohol-related death rates increased by 2 percent when the number of privately-owned liquor stores increased by 10 percent.

The study might be important for governments that are looking into ways of curbing various issues connected to alcohol like alcohol abuse, alcohol-related mortality, drunk driving and other health issues as well. Interestingly, there are two issues related to alcohol: namely, alcoholism is when a person is addicted to alcohol and alcohol abuse is when a person's drinking leads to various issues but the person has no addiction to alcohol.

"This study adds to the scientific evidence that, despite popular opinion to the contrary, even the heaviest drinkers reduce their consumption when minimum alcohol prices increase. It is hard otherwise to explain the significant changes in alcohol-related deaths observed in British Columbia," Dr. Stockwell was quoted as saying in Medicalxpress.

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