Alcohol Price and Taxation
An important component of addressing student alcohol problems is reducing their access to alcohol in the community surrounding campus. The vehicles for reducing student access to alcohol via community policy development include limiting the number of alcohol outlets near campus, decreasing the hours or days of alcohol sales, and limiting alcohol specials or promotions. At the state level, many campuses have also advocated for increases in alcohol price or taxation to deter student consumption. Raising alcohol tax or price has been demonstrated to be an efficient means of not only addressing alcohol-related problems, but also generating revenue.
Raising alcohol price and tax is associated with decreased alcohol consumption in many research studies. In a recent meta-analysis of 112 such studies, Wagenaar et al. (2009) found an inverse relationship between alcohol price/tax and consumption of all types of alcohol for the majority of studies analyzed. The meta-analysis also found that alcohol price significantly impacts heavy drinking. This meta-analysis provides strong support to raising alcohol prices or taxes in order to deter college students from drinking.
A link has also been found between raising alcohol price and decreases in alcohol-related negative consequences. For example, some studies have demonstrated that raising alcohol prices is associated with increases in college graduation rates and decreases in alcohol-related crimes. Furthermore, many states have used the revenue from raising alcohol taxes for alcohol prevention initiatives, such as the enforcement of alcohol policies or transportation (“Increasing Alcohol Taxes to Fund Programs to Prevent and Treat Youth-Related Alcohol Problems,” 2001). As such, raising alcohol price/tax may save a state or community the costs of alcohol-related incidences, such as property damages or injuries, and increase their access to funding for other prevention efforts.
Issues and considerations
Perhaps the best way for campuses to advocate for increasing alcohol prices or taxes is through their campus and community coalition. In a 2001 publication of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the authors present ways that coalitions can increase alcohol excise tax rates locally or at the state level. For example, the authors suggest that coalitions identify and quantify some of the major economic and social costs of alcohol in the community or state and launch an educational campaign to publicize the policy issue to the public (“Increasing Alcohol Taxes to Fund Programs to Prevent and Treat Youth-Related Alcohol Problems,” 2001). For more information on advocating an increase in alcohol tax/ price in your community, visit http://www.cspinet.org/alcohol/index.html.
Wagenaar, A. C., Salois, M. J., & Komro, K. A. (2009). Effects of beverage alcohol price and tax levels on drinking: A meta-analysis of 1003 estimates from 112 studies. Addiction, 104(2), 179-190.
Increasing Alcohol Taxes to Fund Programs to Prevent and Treat Youth-Related Alcohol Problems (2001). The Center for Science in the Public Interest: Alcohol Policies Project. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from http://safesupportivelearning.ed.gov/resources/strategizer-37-increasing-alcohol-taxes-fund-programs-prevent-and-treat-youth-related.