According to a report compiled by Alexander Wagenaar and colleagues from the University of Florida doubling the taxes on alcohol reduces death by 35%.
Alcohol consumption is itself harmful to health and can lead to other social and psychological problems, but also, it is linked to other harmful behaviors that can lead to death – such as drunk driving and irresponsible sexual activity, crime and violence.
For this reason upping the taxes on alcohol was seen to reduce traffic accidents by 11%, sexually transmitted infections by 6%, violence by 2% and crime by 1.4%, as per the findings reported in the American journal of Public Health.
The price of alcohol directly impacts drinking rates – each 10% hike in price, leads to a 5% drop in alcohol consumption.
According to the report, in most developed countries, alcohol is second only to tobacco as a consumer product that causes death (there are about 85,000 alcohol-related deaths per year in the United States alone).
The social significance of these findings is very important particularly when considering that states such as Massachusetts will be asking voters when they go the polls later this month, whether they want exemption from sales tax on alcohol.