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Drink tax "curbs alcohol misuse"

Increasing the cost of alcohol through taxation could be the best way of dealing with the problem of irresponsible and antisocial drinking, it has been claimed.

A study from the US, published in the journal Addiction, found that people tended to go out drinking less when prices were high. It also showed when people did decide to take a drink, they consumed less units because of the costs involved.

Researchers from the University of Florida trawled through 112 studies looking at drinking habits from across the world in relation to alcohol tax and price levels, and consumption over the last 40 years.

Senior author, Alexander Wagenaar, Professor of Epidemiology and Health Policy Research, said: "Results from over 100 separate studies reporting over 1,000 distinct statistical estimates are remarkably consistent, and show without doubt that alcohol taxes and prices affect drinking.

"When prices go down, people drink more, and when prices go up, people drink less."

The results were found to be true across all spectrums of drinking, from light drinkers and teenage consumers, to heavy and problem drinkers. Prof Wagenaar said the study indicated taxation was a more effective control than legal enforcement, media campaigns or educational programmes.

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