This modeling study estimated that doubling current alcohol excise taxes in the WHO European region could avoid almost 6% of new cancer cases and cancer deaths caused by alcohol (180,900 cases and 85,100 deaths) in the region.
The findings are particularly important for Member States of the European Union where excise duties are in many cases very low.


Carolin Kilian (email:, Pol Rovira, Maria Neufeld, Carina Ferreira-Borges, Harriet Rumgay, Isabelle Soerjomataram and Jürgen Rehm


Kilian, C., Rovira, P., Neufeld, M., Ferreira-Borges, C., Rumgay, H., Soerjomataram, I. and Rehm, J., 2021. Modelling the impact of increased alcohol taxation on alcohol-attributable cancers in the WHO European Region. The Lancet Regional Health - Europe, p.100225.

The Lancet Regional Health Europe
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Modelling the Impact of Increased Alcohol Taxation on Alcohol-Attributable Cancers in the WHO European Region



Reducing the alcohol-attributable cancer burden in the WHO European Region is a public health priority. This study aims to estimate the number of potentially avoidable cancers in countries of the WHO European Region in 2019 for three scenarios in which current excise duties on alcoholic beverages were increased by 20%, 50%, or 100%.


Mean prices and excise duties for beer, wine, and spirits in the Member States of the WHO European Region in 2020 were used as the baseline scenario. The researchers assumed that increases in excise duties (20%, 50%, and 100%) were fully incorporated into the consumer price. Beverage-specific price elasticities of demand, with lower elasticities for heavy alcohol users, were obtained from a meta-analysis. Model estimates were applied to alcohol exposure data for 2009 and cancer incidence and mortality rates for 2019, assuming a 10-year lag time between alcohol intake and cancer development and mortality.


Of 180,887 new alcohol-attributable cancer cases and 85,130 deaths in the WHO European Region in 2019, 5.9% and 5.7%, respectively, (or 10,700 cases and 4,850 deaths) could have been avoided by increasing excise duties by 100%.

According to the scientific model, alcohol-attributable female breast cancer and colorectal cancer contributed most to the avoidable cases and deaths.


Doubling current alcohol excise duties could avoid almost 6% (or 10,700 cases and 4,850 deaths) of new alcohol-attributable cancers within the WHO European Region, particularly in Member States of the European Union where excise duties are in many cases very low.

Cancer cases from alcohol that can be prevented through doubling alcohol taxation
Increasing the alcohol excise tax by 100% would lead to a 5.9% reduction of cancer cases caused by alcohol and a 5.7% reduction of cancer deaths caused by alcohol – meaning 10,700 cases and 4,850 deaths could be prevented by doubling the alcohol excise tax.

Source Website: The Lancet