Impact of introducing a minimum alcohol tax share in retail prices on alcohol-attributable mortality in the WHO European Region: a modelling study
Alcohol use and its burden constitute one of the largest public health challenges in the WHO European Region. Raising alcohol taxes is a cost-effective 'best buy' measure to reduce alcohol consumption, but its implementation remains uneven. In order to see how much a change in these policies could result in the potential reduction of deaths, two scenarios were modelled. First, a minimum excise tax share level of 25% of the beverage-specific retail price was assumed for all countries. Then, in addition to a minimum excise tax share level of 15%, it was assumed that per unit of ethanol minimal retail prices were the same irrespective of alcoholic beverages (equalisation). These models shown that in a region with 753,454,300 inhabitants older than 15 years old, these policies would result in 40,033 (95% CI: 38,054-46,097) deaths averted if the first scenario was applied and 132,906 (95% CI: 124,691-151,674) deaths averted if the second scenario was applied.
Similar to tobacco taxes, increasing alcohol taxes should be considered to be a health-based measure aimed at saving lives. Many countries have hesitated to apply higher taxes to alcohol, but the present results show a clear health benefit as a result of implementing a minimum tax share.