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A "buck a beer," but at what cost to public health?

Authors
  • Shield, Kevin D1, 2, 3
  • Probst, Charlotte4, 5
  • Rehm, Jürgen4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
  • 1 World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. [email protected] , (Canada)
  • 2 Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. [email protected] , (Canada)
  • 3 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. [email protected] , (Canada)
  • 4 World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 5 Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 6 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 7 Institute for Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, TU Dresden, Dresden, Saxony, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 8 Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 9 Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 10 Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. , (Canada)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Canadian journal of public health = Revue canadienne de sante publique
Publication Date
Aug 01, 2019
Volume
110
Issue
4
Pages
512–515
Identifiers
DOI: 10.17269/s41997-019-00184-6
PMID: 30737723
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Alcohol use leads to a substantial number of hospitalizations, and to increased health and social harms as well as economic costs in Ontario and across Canada. The effects of alcohol price changes on consumption and resulting harms have been firmly established; changes in the minimum price of alcohol have the greatest effect on consumption among people who for reasons of affordability consume low-priced alcoholic beverages, typically adolescents, people with lower socio-economic status, and people with harmful alcohol use. Decreases in inflation-adjusted minimum pricing in British Columbia from 2002 to 2006 have been associated with increases in deaths wholly attributable to alcohol. Furthermore, decreases in alcohol prices have been previously associated with increases in drink-driving, decreases in life expectancy, increases in road traffic injuries, violence, and alcohol poisonings, and long-term increases in deaths from infectious diseases, circulatory diseases, and digestive diseases. Based on the findings of previous studies, lowering the cost of alcohol will negatively impact the health of Ontarians and further strain a healthcare system with limited resources. Accordingly, Ontario should be strengthening alcohol policies to improve public health, including raising the minimum price of alcohol, rather than weakening alcohol policies.

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