Do alcohol pricing and availability policies have differential effects on sub-populations? A commentary

Norman Giesbrecht, Ashley Wettlaufer, Samantha Cukier, Gillian Geddie, André-Henrique Gonçalves, Emilene Reisdorfer


Giesbrecht, N., Wettlaufer, A., Cukier, S., Geddie, G., Gonçalves, A., & Reisdorfer, E. (2016). Do alcohol pricing and availability policies have differential effects on sub-populations? A commentary. The International Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Research, 5(3), 89-99. doi:

Aims: Numerous policies have been shown to reduce the harm from alcohol; however, not all sub-populations respond similarly to policy interventions. This paper explores the specific effects of alcohol pricing policies and controls regarding physical availability on different types of harms from alcohol as well as on different sectors of the population, including impacts by gender, age, and drinking patterns.

Design, Setting, Participants, and Measures: We focus on two dimensions. The first is alcohol pricing and taxation; the second is alcohol availability, comprising type of alcohol control system, outlet density, and hours/days of sale. We focused on peer-reviewed research and reviews published from 2005–2015, using several databases: PsycINFO, MEDLINE/PubMed, and Cochrane.

Findings: Precautionary alcohol prices have substantial harm reduction potential, particularly among youth and high-risk drinkers. Restrictions on outlet densities and hours/days of sale impact the drinking patterns of underage youth, reduce high-risk drinking, and reduce alcohol-related harm. A reduction in prices or an increase in alcohol availability are associated with increase in high-risk drinking or alcohol-related harm.

Conclusions: Future work should examine these policy measures in light of socioeconomic status and cultural factors, as well as impacts of policy interventions on evidence of harm to others from alcohol.


alcohol pricing; alcohol availability; differential effects; gender; age; drinking patterns; alcohol-related harm

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