The “alcopops” tax: heading in the right direction

Tanya N Chikritzhs, Paul M Dietze, Steven J Allsop, Michael M Daube, Wayne D Hall and Kypros Kypri
Med J Aust 2009; 190 (6): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02415.x
Published online: 16 March 2009

Evidence shows that cost does affect alcohol consumption, and reducing consumption improves public health

There is strong evidence that increasing the cost of alcohol reduces the overall amount that is consumed.1 In a range of countries, price increases have been consistently shown to reduce alcohol consumption and related harms in both the general population and at-risk populations such as young people and heavy drinkers. Conversely, price decreases have resulted in an increase in consumption and harm.1-3 In this context, the Australian Government’s April 2008 increase in excise tax (Bill introduced on 11 February 2009) on ready-to-drink (RTD) spirit-based products (RTDs; “alcopops”) is an evidence-based strategy to reduce excessive RTD consumption among young people. The alcoholic content of RTDs is now taxed at a similar rate to that of other spirits (tax increased from $39.36 to $66.67 per litre of pure alcohol).

  • 1 National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA.
  • 2 Burnet Institute, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA.
  • 4 School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD.
  • 5 School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW.


We thank Michael Walton of The Nielsen Company, who advised on the description and interpretation of the alcohol sales data described in this editorial.

Competing interests:

The Distilled Spirits Industry Consortium Australia funded the airfare for Steven Allsop to speak on the topic of evidence on effective prevention responses to alcohol problems at a meeting.


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