235663 Impact of a $.25 per drink tax increase: Who really pays the tab?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 11:10 AM

Mandy Stahre, MPH , School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
James Daley, MA, MPH , School of Medicine, Boston University, Boston, MA
Timothy S. Naimi, MD, MPH , Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
Raising the price of alcohol through excise taxes is an effective, evidence-based means of reducing excessive alcohol use the third leading preventable cause of death in the US annually. However, one argument against a tax increase is that moderate or lower risk drinkers will be unfairly burdened. To investigate the impact of a $0.25 tax increase on lower versus higher risk drinkers, data from the 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System was analyzed. Higher risk drinkers were those who reported any of the following in the past 30 days: binge drinking, heavy average consumption, daily drinking exceeding the 2005 US Dietary Guidelines, or impaired driving. The average number of drinks consumed by an individual was multiplied by the $0.25 tax increase, extrapolated to an annual estimate, and aggregated to the population level by selected demographics. Approximately half of all drinkers were higher risk. A hypothetical tax increase of $0.25 would result in a per capita annual tax of $131 for higher risk drinkers versus $28 for lower risk drinkers. The total aggregate annual tax equaled $9.1 billion; 83% accrued to higher risk drinkers. Groups most affected by a tax increase included those aged 21 to 30 years, males, those of white race, college graduates, and those employed or earning $50,000 or more. Although a tax increase would likely affect the amount of alcohol consumed overall, this study demonstrates that a tax increase would be borne disproportionately by higher risk drinkers and those with advantaged socioeconomic characteristics.->

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe alcohol consumption patterns for higher and lower risk drinkers Describe higher risk drinkers by demographic groups Demonstrate the impact of a hypothetical tax increase using annual expenditures by higher versus lower risk drinkers by demographic groups

Keywords: Alcohol Use, Health Disparities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have been in the field of alcohol epidemiology for the past 7 years. I have my MPH in Epidemiology and am currently completing my PhD in epidemiology. I have or currently worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Alcohol Team and the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.