Objectives: We investigated whether periodic increases in minimum alcohol prices were associated with reduced alcohol-attributable hospital admissions in British Columbia.
Methods: The longitudinal panel study (2002-2009) incorporated minimum alcohol prices, density of alcohol outlets, and age- and gender-standardized rates of acute, chronic, and 100% alcohol-attributable admissions. We applied mixed-method regression models to data from 89 geographic areas of British Columbia across 32 time periods, adjusting for spatial and temporal autocorrelation, moving average effects, season, and a range of economic and social variables.
Results: A 10% increase in the average minimum price of all alcoholic beverages was associated with an 8.95% decrease in acute alcohol-attributable admissions and a 9.22% reduction in chronic alcohol-attributable admissions 2 years later. A Can$ 0.10 increase in average minimum price would prevent 166 acute admissions in the 1st year and 275 chronic admissions 2 years later. We also estimated significant, though smaller, adverse impacts of increased private liquor store density on hospital admission rates for all types of alcohol-attributable admissions.
Conclusions: Significant health benefits were observed when minimum alcohol prices in British Columbia were increased. By contrast, adverse health outcomes were associated with an expansion of private liquor stores.