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Alcopops tax cuts drinking and harm

by Carleen Frost, Health Reporter, The Daily Telegraph
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A new NDARC study found that the introduction of an alcopop tax has significantly reduced alcohol-related harm among young Australians, writes Carleen Frost.

The tax on alcopops has significantly reduced the number of highly intoxicated young people presenting to hospital emergency departments and helped curb levels of binge drinking across NSW, according to a new study.

The research — led by the University of NSW — is the first to examine the long term impacts of “acute alcoholism’’ in the wake of the tax, which was introduced in 2008 after growing concerns about the emergence of sugary, ready-to-drink beverages.

It analysed 107,810 presentations to emergency departments from 39 hospitals across the state between 1997 and 2011 and found a significant drop in the presentations of drunken 18-24 year old males and females after the tax was introduced.

There were 1350 fewer presentations for young women — the prime market for alcopop beverages — and 514 for young men.

The report said: “The 2008 alcopops tax coincided with a reduction in alcohol-related harm among younger persons and a partial reverse of the strong upward trend in harm in young women that followed the introduction of the GST.’’

“The results of this study support the use of alcohol taxation as an instrument to reduce alcohol harm.’’

The findings were published in the BMC Public Health journal last week.

The University of NSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre deputy director Anthony Shakeshaft said the findings showed the alcopops tax had had a “direct impact’’ in not only reducing consumption, but harm as well.

This article was originally published in The Daily Telegraph

Click here to read the full study.