Online Program

Comparative case study research on events leading to alcohol tax changes in three states

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 11:30 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.

Rebecca Reynolds-Ramirez, MPH, Dept. of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Katherine Clegg Smith, PhD, Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Samantha Cukier, MBA, MA, Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
David H. Jernigan, PhD, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Background: The Community Preventive Services Task Force has recommended raising alcohol taxes as an effective means of reducing excessive use and related harms. Despite this public health recommendation, few states raise alcohol tax rates regularly. We examined the role that research, public health expertise and various stakeholders played in recent alcohol price changes in Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts through historical comparative case study research. Methods: We analyzed relevant documents including bills and ballot initiatives, voter information materials, and background materials prepared by stakeholders. We conducted key informant interviews regarding the planning, implementation and outcomes of each campaign with more than 30 representatives from various constituencies. We completed a content analysis of approximately 600 newspaper articles from a purposive sample of four newspapers in each state over a two-year period surrounding the passage of the tax increase. Results: We will describe the diversity of reasons for and pathways to alcohol tax increases; the complexity of running a statewide alcohol tax campaign, including strategies used and resources (financial, human and research-related) needed; the nature of key players in the process; and the types of strategic decisions made throughout the campaign. We will present the findings of the newspaper content analysis, elucidating how competing frames were constructed in public discussions about alcohol taxes. Conclusions: Important lessons were learned from the efforts to raise alcohol taxes in Illinois and Maryland, and the 2009 effort to add additional sales tax to alcohol in Massachusetts followed by the 2010 ballot initiative to remove the new tax.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the potential impact of raising alcohol prices on alcohol-related harms and the importance of public health research in alcohol tax campaigns. Identify the various approaches used by stakeholders in various states to raise alcohol taxes and the challenges they encountered. Discuss the key messages and values conveyed in the news coverage of initiatives to increase alcohol taxes and analyze the lessons learned from three unique campaigns to increase the price of alcohol to improve public health.

Keyword(s): Alcohol, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have my MPH and am the lead researcher on this project to conduct comparative case study research on events leading to alcohol tax changes in three states. I am the lead data collector and am overseeing the study design, data analysis, and report writing.
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.