Sharp drop in drink deaths follows alcohol price rise
Canadian researchers found that deaths caused by alcohol between 2002 and 2009 in the western province of British Columbia dropped when the minimum alcohol price was increased, while alcohol-related deaths rose when more private alcohol stores were opened.
The findings will be keenly scrutinised by alcohol policy makers, particularly in Britain where the government plans to introduce a minimum price on alcohol to try to clamp down on binge drinking and anti-social behaviour. The United States does not currently set a minimum alcohol price.
"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," said Tim Stockwell of the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, who led the study.
John Holmes of the alcohol research group at Britain's University of Sheffield said Stockwell's study was a major contribution to evidence about minimum alcohol pricing and gave a "strong indication that the policy has reduced the consumption levels of those drinking at hazardous and harmful levels."
Stockwell's team, whose research was published in the journal Addiction, looked at three categories of death linked to alcohol - wholly alcohol attributable, acute, and chronic - analysing death rates across the time period against increases in government-set minimum prices of alcohol drinks.
The study was complicated