A systematic review of the literature to assess the effectiveness of alcohol tax policy interventions for reducing excessive alcohol consumption and related harms was conducted for the Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide). Seventy-two papers or technical reports, which were published prior to July 2005, met specified quality criteria, and included evaluation outcomes relevant to public health (e.g., binge drinking, alcohol-related crash fatalities), were included in the final review. Nearly all studies, including those with different study designs, found that there was an inverse relationship between the tax or price of alcohol and indices of excessive drinking or alcohol-related health outcomes. Among studies restricted to underage populations, most found that increased taxes were also significantly associated with reduced consumption and alcohol-related harms. According to Community Guide rules of evidence, these results constitute strong evidence that raising alcohol excise taxes is an effective strategy for reducing excessive alcohol consumption and related harms. The impact of a potential tax increase is expected to be proportional to its magnitude and to be modified by such factors as disposable income and the demand elasticity for alcohol among various population groups.
Published by Elsevier Inc.