Changes in Alcohol Consumption Following a Reduction in the Price of Spirits: A Natural Experiment in Switzerland
To discover what changes in alcohol consumption had occurred in subgroups defined by age, sex, volume of alcohol use and alcohol use occasions, following a reduction in the price of spirits in Switzerland in July 1999.
Quasi‐experimental. Longitudinal general‐population survey with baseline 3 months before and follow‐up 3 months after price change.
Probabilistic telephone sample of 1347 individuals with at least monthly consumption on average in the previous 6 months at both interviews. The response rate at baseline was 74,8% and the attrition rate from baseline to follow‐up 20.2%.
Alcohol consumption was assessed by means of a beverage‐specific graduated‐frequency measure. High volume of alcohol use was defined as 40 + g/day for men and 20 + g/day for women. Binge alcohol use was defined as six+ units of alcohol on an occasion for men and four+ units of alcohol for women.
Spirits consumption increased significantly (by 28.6%) in the total sample, and specifically in young males and in individuals who were low‐volume alcohol users at baseline. Consumption of alcohol overall, or of wine or beer, did not change significantly. No indication of effects of substitution was found.
Spirits consumption showed price‐responsiveness in the early postintervention period. This finding is of particular interest, as (a) the increase in spirits consumption took place at a time of generally declining consumption of alcohol in Switzerland; and (b) in contrast to the findings of most studies, the intervention, namely price reduction, increased availability.