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Alcohol Tax Cuts Likely Increase Deaths

England: Alcohol related deaths are likely to increase after cuts in alcohol taxation, the British Medical Journal writes.

Death rates in England fell for 6 years when alcohol duty was increased, but will now rise as taxes are cut and incomes rise – making alcohol ever more affordable.

Leading experts Nick Sheron and Ian Gilmore note that the “relentless rise” of alcohol related deaths in England will likely resume. Their estimations are based on an analysis of trends in alcohol related harm in the context of changes in the alcohol marketplace, in turn driven by changes in fiscal policy.

They show that alcohol related deaths are related to the level of taxation.

There was a threefold increase in the number of alcohol related deaths between 1980 and 2008 in England and Wales likely due to increased alcohol affordability and availability. As wages increased and alcohol taxation was reduced, by 2008 it was possible to buy almost four bottles of vodka for the price of one bottle in 1980.

In the UK, alcohol sales increased from around 400 million litres in the early 1980s, peaking at 567 million litres in 2008. During this time, alcohol related deaths in England and Wales tripled from 2,314 in 1980, to 7,312 in 2008.

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