The Potential Health Impact of an Alcohol Minimum Unit Price in Québec: An Application of the International Model of Alcohol Harms and Policies
Alcohol minimum unit pricing is a strategy capable of reducing alcohol-related harm from cheap alcoholic beverages. This study used the International Model of Alcohol Harms and Policies (InterMAHP), an open-access alcohol harms estimator and policy scenario modeler, to estimate the potential health benefits of introducing minimum unit pricing in Québec, Canada.
Aggregated mortality and hospitalization data were obtained from official administrative sources. Alcohol sales and pricing data were obtained from the partial government retail monopoly and Nielsen. Exposure data were from the Canadian Substance Use Exposure Database. Average price changes under two minimum-unit-pricing scenarios were estimated by applying a product-level pricing analysis. The online InterMAHP tool was used to automate the estimation of observed alcohol-attributable harm and what was projected in each policy scenario.
Alcohol was estimated to cause 2,850 deaths and 24,694 hospitalizations in Québec in 2014. Introducing minimum unit pricing of CAD$1.50 was estimated to reduce consumption by 4.4%, alcohol-attributable deaths by 5.9% (95% CI [0.2%, 11.7%]), and alcohol-attributable hospital stays by 8.4% (95% CI [3.2%, 13.7%]). Higher minimum unit pricing of CAD$1.75 was estimated to reduce alcohol-attributable deaths by 11.5% (95% CI [5.9%, 17.2%]) and alcohol-attributable hospital stays by 16.3% (95% CI [11.2%, 21.4%]).
The results of this policy modeling study suggest that the introduction of minimum unit pricing between CAD$1.50 and $1.75 would substantially reduce the alcohol-caused burden of disease in Québec. The quantification of alcohol-caused death and disability, and the changes in these measures under two scenarios, was significantly automated by the open-access resource, InterMAHP.
Study in context
With the growing burden on healthcare due to COVID-19, MUP policies in Canada can help to reduce the burden on these systems and help in pandemic recovery.
As we continue to weather the COVID-19 pandemic and hear concerns about overwhelming our health care systems, this study shows that a minimum unit price for alcohol would help to free up valuable resources by decreasing alcohol’s burden on our health care systems,” said Dr. Adam Sherk, lead researcher of the study from the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, as per Medical Xpress.Dr. Adam Sherk, lead researcher of the stud, the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada,