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Maximizing the Public Health Impact of Alcohol and Tobacco Taxes

      Significant increases in alcohol and tobacco taxes are among the most effective policies governments have for improving public health. Higher alcohol taxes reduce the prevalence, frequency, and intensity of drinking,
      • Wagenaar A.C.
      • Salois M.J.
      • Komro K.A.
      Effects of beverage alcohol price and tax levels on drinking: a meta-analysis of 1003 estimates from 112 studies.
      as well as the traffic crashes, liver cirrhosis, violence, and other health and social consequences of harmful drinking.
      • Wagenaar A.C.
      • Tobler A.L.
      • Komro K.A.
      Effects of alcohol tax and price policies on morbidity and mortality: a systematic review.
      Likewise, increases in tobacco taxes promote cessation among adult users, prevent young people from taking up tobacco use, and reduce the death, disease, and economic consequences caused by tobacco.
      International Agency for Research on Cancer
      IARC handbooks of cancer prevention, tobacco control, Volume 14: the effectiveness of tax and price policies for tobacco control.
      At the same time, increased taxes raise new revenues that can be used to support alcohol- and tobacco-control programs and other health promotion efforts, adding to their positive public health impact.
      International Agency for Research on Cancer
      IARC handbooks of cancer prevention, tobacco control, Volume 14: the effectiveness of tax and price policies for tobacco control.
      • Daley J.I.
      • Stahre M.A.
      • Chaloupka F.J.
      • Naimi T.S.
      The impact of a 25-cent-per-drink alcohol tax increase.
      However, governments in the U.S. and elsewhere often fail to maximize the public health benefits of alcohol and tobacco taxes, while drinkers, smokers, and other tobacco users use various strategies to avoid these taxes. The papers by Kerr and colleagues
      • Kerr W.C.
      • Paterson D.
      • Greenfield T.K.
      • et al.
      U.S. alcohol affordability and real tax rates, 1950–2011.
      and Xu and colleagues
      • Xu X.
      • Pesko M.F.
      • Tynan M.A.
      • Gerzoff R.B.
      • Malarcher A.M.
      • Pechacek T.F.
      Cigarette price-minimization strategies by U.S. Smokers.
      in this issue illustrate these problems.
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      References

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        • Salois M.J.
        • Komro K.A.
        Effects of beverage alcohol price and tax levels on drinking: a meta-analysis of 1003 estimates from 112 studies.
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        • Wagenaar A.C.
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        Effects of alcohol tax and price policies on morbidity and mortality: a systematic review.
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        • International Agency for Research on Cancer
        IARC handbooks of cancer prevention, tobacco control, Volume 14: the effectiveness of tax and price policies for tobacco control.
        IARC, Lyon, France2011
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        • Naimi T.S.
        The impact of a 25-cent-per-drink alcohol tax increase.
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        • Greenfield T.K.
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        U.S. alcohol affordability and real tax rates, 1950–2011.
        Am J Prev Med. 2013; 44: 459-464
        • Xu X.
        • Pesko M.F.
        • Tynan M.A.
        • Gerzoff R.B.
        • Malarcher A.M.
        • Pechacek T.F.
        Cigarette price-minimization strategies by U.S. Smokers.
        Am J Prev Med. 2013; 44: 472-476
        • Xu X.
        • Chaloupka F.J.
        The effects of prices on alcohol use and its consequences.
        Alcohol Res Health. 2011; 34: 236-245
        • WHO
        WHO technical manual on tobacco tax administration.
        WHO, Geneva, Switzerland2010

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