Accepted on: Sep 30, 2012
The Raising of Minimum Alcohol Prices in Saskatchewan, Canada: Impacts on Consumption and Implications for Public Health
Tim Stockwell, PhD, Jinhui Zhao, PhD, Norman Giesbrecht, PhD, Scott Macdonald, PhD, Gerald Thomas, PhD, and Ashley Wettlaufer, MPH
Tim Stockwell, Jinhui Zhao, and Scott Macdonald are with the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Victoria. Tim Stockwell is also with the Department of Psychology, University of Victoria. Norman Giesbrecht and Ashley Wettlaufer are with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario. Gerald Thomas is with Okanagan Research, Summerland, British Columbia.
Correspondence should be sent to Dr. Tim Stockwell, Centre for Addictions Research of BC, University of Victoria, PO Box STN 1700 CSC, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 2Y2, Canada (e-mail: email@example.com). Reprints can be ordered at http://www.ajph.org by clicking the “Reprints” link.
T. Stockwell is principle investigator for the research program that generated this article and was mainly responsible for conceiving the research plan and overseeing its implementation and write-up at every stage. J. Zhao constructed the data files, ran the statistical models described, and prepared descriptions of the methods as well as the tables and figures. N. Giesbrecht and S. Macdonald are coinvestigators on the research program, provided advice on study design and interpretation of results, and contributed to successive drafts of the article. G. Thomas provided advice on policy implications of the results and their interpretation and provided detailed comments on article drafts. A. Wettlaufer helped compile data for the project and provided comments on article drafts.
Objectives. We report impacts on alcohol consumption following new and increased minimum alcohol prices in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Methods. We conducted autoregressive integrated moving average time series analyses of alcohol sales and price data from the Saskatchewan government alcohol monopoly for 26 periods before and 26 periods after the intervention.
Results. A 10% increase in minimum prices significantly reduced consumption of beer by 10.06%, spirits by 5.87%, wine by 4.58%, and all beverages combined by 8.43%. Consumption of coolers decreased significantly by 13.2%, cocktails by 21.3%, and liqueurs by 5.3%. There were larger effects for purely off-premise sales (e.g., liquor stores) than for primarily on-premise sales (e.g., bars, restaurants). Consumption of higher strength beer and wine declined the most. A 10% increase in minimum price was associated with a 22.0% decrease in consumption of higher strength beer (> 6.5% alcohol/volume) versus 8.17% for lower strength beers. The neighboring province of Alberta showed no change in per capita alcohol consumption before and after the intervention.
Conclusions. Minimum pricing is a promising strategy for reducing the public health burden associated with hazardous alcohol consumption. Pricing to reflect percentage alcohol content of drinks can shift consumption toward lower alcohol content beverage types.