Text Size
Minimum Alcohol Pricing

In B.C. - Upping Alcohol Prices by 10% Cuts Deaths by a Third

A Canadian study shows that raising the costs of the cheapest alcohol by 10% cuts alcohol related deaths by as much as a third.

So what if that beer costs a few cents more…could a small price increase really affect people’s drinking habits?

Well, according to researchers at The University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research, between 2002 and 2009 in British Columbia, Canada, a 10% increase in average minimum alcohol pricing resulted in a 32% drop in alcohol related deaths.

To come to this conclusion, the researchers sifted through provincial death medical records over the 7 year study period to identify people who died wholly or partly because of alcohol consumption, and they grouped these people into one of three categories:

  1. Completely Alcohol Caused Deaths – people who died from alcohol poisoning, fetal alcohol syndrome, alcoholic gastritis, alcohol psychosis, alcoholic pancreatitis and alcoholic cardiomyopathy
  2. Acute Alcohol Attributable Deaths – Alcohol related suicides and accidental injuries leading to death
  3. Chronic Alcohol Attributable Death – Deaths caused by chronic alcohol related diseases, such as cirrhosis of the liver and stomach, mouth, esophagus and breast cancers

Key Study Findings

Raising the average minimum price by 10%:

  • Caused a 32% reduction in completely alcohol caused deaths
  • Caused a substantial decrease in chronic alcohol deaths, though the death rate here didn’t start to go down until a couple of years following the introduction of raised minimum pricing


A common argument raised against upping average minimum alcohol pricing is that it punishes healthy consumers while failing to dissuade problem drinkers.

The researchers argue, however, that by raising the costs of the cheapest alcoholic drinks you decrease consumption most among the heaviest drinkers, who tend to buy these better ‘value’ alcoholic drinks. 

Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Dr. Tim Stockwell notes, "This study adds to the scientific evidence that, despite popular opinion to the contrary, even the heaviest drinkers reduce their consumption when minimum alcohol prices increase. It is hard otherwise to explain the significant changes in alcohol-related deaths observed in British Columbia."

Read the full study results in the journal, Addiction.

Email It Send this page Print It Print friendly page Subscribe Subscribe to this topic category
Story Highlights
  • Prices Go Up and Deaths go Down: Raising the price of the cheapest alcohol by 10% resulted in a 32% drop in deaths
  • Affects Hardest Drinking Most: Raising the average minimum price affects those who buy the cheapest/strongest alcohol most
Creative Commons License
Copyright Notice
We welcome republishing of our content on condition that you credit Choose Help and the respective authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Join Thousands of Readers

who receive our weekly recovery newsletter.

Helpful Information
Alcohol Addiction – the Straight Facts
Alcohol Addiction (Alcoholism) – Learn the Facts © Josep Salvia I Bote
The difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction (alcoholism), what puts you at risk of becoming an alcoholic and what to do once you’ve crossed that invisible line to addiction. Read Article
Addictions February 22, 2013
8 Ways To Heal Your Liver After You Quit Drinking
How’s Your Liver? 8 Ways To Mend Your Liver After Quitting Alcohol © Daniela Vladimirova
How’s your liver? Find out more about alcoholic liver diseases, and most importantly, learn 8 ways to heal your liver now that you’re no longer drinking! (If you’re still drinking too much, there’s really only 1 thing you need to do - stop hurting your liver.) Read Article
Alcoholism June 19, 2013 (54)
Wet Brain - Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
Wet Brain – Alcoholism and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome © jsmjr
Long years of heavy drinking may lead to a thiamine deficiency, and a syndrome known as Wernicke-Korsakoff (wet brain). Much of the brain damage experienced is unfortunately irreversible. Read Article
Alcoholism January 23, 2008 (56)
Like Our Site? Follow Us!

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.