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Impact of Alcohol Taxation in a Large Urban Area

Addiction; ePub 2018 Oct 12; Keyes, Shev, et al

Reductions in alcohol consumption in a large urban environment such as New York City (NYC) can be sustained with modest increases in universal taxation, according to a recent study. Alcohol tax increases also have a modest effect on alcohol‐related violent victimization. Researchers evaluated an adult population aged 18‐64 years in the year 2000 in the 59 community districts of NYC. The population of 256,500 agents approximates a 5% sample of the NYC population. Agents were parameterized through a series of rules that governed alcohol consumption and engagement in violence. 6 taxation interventions were implemented based on extensive reviews and meta‐analyses: increasing universal alcohol tax by 1, 5, and 10%, and beer tax by 1, 5, and 10%. They found:

  • Under no tax increase, approximately 12.2% were heavy drinkers.
  • Taxation decreased the proportion of heavy drinkers; a 10% tax decreased heavy drinking to 9.6%.
  • Taxation influenced those in the lowest income groups more than the highest income groups.
  • Alcohol‐related homicide decreased from 3.22 per 100,000 to 2.40 per 100,000 under a 10% universal tax.
  • This translates into an anticipated benefit of ~1,200 lives/year.


Keyes KM, Shev A, Tracy M, Cerdá M. Assessing the impact of alcohol taxation on rates of violent victimization in a large urban area: An agent‐based modeling approach. [Published online ahead of print October 12, 2018]. Addiction. doi:10.1111/add.14470.