Evidence-informed policy actions to reduce alcohol consumption

Learn how local, provincial and territorial governments can reduce alcohol consumption by implementing evidence-informed policies

Inside this alcohol policy pack

What are evidence-informed alcohol policy actions for local and provincial/territorial governments?

Several policies regulating access, availability and marketing of alcohol are shown to be effective in lowering alcohol consumption and related harms, as summarized below.

Summary of evidence-informed policy of interventions to reduce alcohol consumption

Limiting hours of sale1

  • Reducing hours of alcohol sale may reduce consumption and harm, as evidence indicates increases in the amount of time when alcohol is available is associated with increases in consumption.2

Limiting the number of physical outlets where alcohol is sold3

  • Generally, increased outlet density was associated with increases in alcohol-related harms.4
  • Emerging evidence indicates that reducing the density of alcohol outlets impacts consumption and reduces chronic health harms.5

Increasing alcohol prices6

  • Minimum prices effectively reduce health and other harms, and have a greater effect on the heaviest drinkers who experience the greatest harms.7
  • Increasing Social Reference Prices by 10 per cent in Saskatchewan led to an 8.4 per cent drop in alcohol sales.8
  • Increasing minimum prices in British Columbia demonstrated improvements in alcohol-related health outcomes.9

Increasing alcohol taxes10

  • Increasing tax is associated with a proportionate reduction in alcohol consumption and harms.11
  • Combined taxation and minimum unit pricing increases positive impacts on health compared with either strategy on its own.12
  • 10 per cent increase in prices due to taxation results in a 5 percent reduction in consumption.13
  • Doubling sales taxes reduces alcohol-related mortality by an average of 35 per cent.14
  • In Finland, reducing taxes increased consumption by 10 per cent and alcohol-attributable deaths by 19 per cent.15

Restricting alcohol advertising and promotion16

  • Complete advertising bans are effective in reducing alcohol-related morbidity and mortality.17
  • Industry self-regulation is unlikely to be effective.18
  • Labelling alcohol with health warnings increases knowledge and awareness. However, effectiveness in reducing consumption is not yet demonstrated in peer-reviewed literature.19

Maintaining public monopolization/limiting privatization of alcohol retail20

  • Government monopolies significantly reduce alcohol-related harm at the population
    level.21

More information
Learn what evidence-informed alcohol policies have been adopted by local and provincial territorial governments:

References
1- Popova, S, Giesbrecht, N, Bekmuradov, D, and Patra, J. (2009). Hours and days of sale and density of alcohol outlets: Impacts on alcohol consumption and damage: A systematic review. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 44(5), 500-16.
2- Hahn,R.A., Kuzara,J.L., Elder,R., Brewer,R., Chattopadhyay,S., Fielding,J., Naimi,T.S., Toomey,T., Middleton,J.C., Lawrence,B. (2010). Effectiveness of policies restricting hours of alcohol sales in preventing excessive alcohol consumption and related harms. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 39(6), 590-604.
3- Popova, S, Giesbrecht, N, Bekmuradov, D, and Patra, J. (2009). Hours and days of sale and density of alcohol outlets: Impacts on alcohol consumption and damage: A systematic review. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 44(5), 500-16.
4- Community Preventive Services Task Force (2007) Systematic Review: Alcohol – Excessive Consumption: Regulation of Alcohol Outlet Density. Retrieved from: https://www.thecommunityguide.org/findings/alcohol-excessive-consumption-regulation-alcoholoutlet-density
5- Burton, R, Henn, C, Lavoie, D, O’Connor, R, Perkins, C, Sweeney, K et al. (2017). A rapid review of the effectiveness and costeffectiveness of alcohol control policies: an English perspective. Lancet, 389, 1558-80.
6- Martineau, F, Tyner, E, Lorenc, T, Petticrew, M, and Lock, K. (2013). Population-level interventions to reduce alcohol-related harm: An overview of systematic reviews. Preventive Medicine, 57(4), 278-96.
7- Burton, R, Henn, C, Lavoie, D, O’Connor, R, Perkins, C, Sweeney, K et al. (2017). A rapid review of the effectiveness and costeffectiveness of alcohol control policies: an English perspective. Lancet, 389, 1558-80.
8- Stockwell T, Zhao J, Giesbrecht N, Macdonald S, Thomas G, Wettlaufer A. (2012). The raising of minimum alcohol prices in Saskatchewan, Canada: impacts on consumption and implications for public health. Am J Public Health; 102: e103-10
9- Zhao J, Stockwell T, Martin G et al. (2013). The relationship between minimum alcohol prices, outlet densities and alcohol attributable deaths in British Columbia, 2002-09. Addiction, 108:1059-69
10- Martineau, F, Tyner, E, Lorenc, T, Petticrew, M, and Lock, K. (2013). Population-level interventions to reduce alcohol-related harm: An overview of systematic reviews. Preventive Medicine, 57(4), 278-96.
11- Burton, R, Henn, C, Lavoie, D, O’Connor, R, Perkins, C, Sweeney, K et al. (2017). A rapid review of the effectiveness and costeffectiveness of alcohol control policies: an English perspective. Lancet, 389, 1558-80.
12- Ibid
13- Panchal P, Waddell K, Wilson MG. Rapid synthesis: Examining the Costs and Cost-effectiveness of Policies for Reducing Alcohol Consumption. Hamilton, Canada: McMaster Health Forum, 29 January 2018.
14- Ibid
15- Makela P, Osterberg E. (2009). Weakening of one alcohol control pillar: a review of the effects of the alcohol tax cuts in Finland in 2004. Addiction, 104:554-563
16- Jernigan, D, Noel, J, Landon, J, Thornton, N, and Lobstein, T. (2016). Alcohol marketing and youth alcohol consumption: A systematic review of longitudinal studies published since 2008. Addiction, 112(S1), 7-20.
17- Burton, R, Henn, C, Lavoie, D, O’Connor, R, Perkins, C, Sweeney, K et al. (2017). A rapid review of the effectiveness and costeffectiveness of alcohol control policies: an English perspective. Lancet, 389, 1558-80.
18- Ibid
19- Ibid
20- Hahn, R, et al. (2012). Effects of alcohol retail privatization on excessive alcohol consumption and related harms: A community guide systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 42(4), 418-27.
21- Ibid.