Objective: To measure alcohol-related harms to the health of young people presenting to emergency departments (EDs) of Gold Coast public hospitals before and after the increase in the federal government “alcopops” tax in 2008.
Design, setting and participants: Interrupted time series analysis over 5 years (28 April 2005 to 27 April 2010) of 15–29-year-olds presenting to EDs with alcohol-related harms compared with presentations of selected control groups.
Main outcome measures: Proportion of 15–29-year-olds presenting to EDs with alcohol-related harms compared with (i) 30–49-year-olds with alcohol-related harms, (ii)15–29-year-olds with asthma or appendicitis, and (iii) 15–29-year-olds with any non-alcohol and non-injury related ED presentation.
Results: Over a third of 15–29-year-olds presented to ED with alcohol-related conditions, as opposed to around a quarter for all other age groups. There was no significant decrease in alcohol-related ED presentations of 15–29-year-olds compared with any of the control groups after the increase in the tax. We found similar results for males and females, narrow and broad definitions of alcohol-related harms, under-19s, and visitors to and residents of the Gold Coast.
Conclusions: The increase in the tax on alcopops was not associated with any reduction in alcohol-related harms in this population in a unique tourist and holiday region. A more comprehensive approach to reducing alcohol harms in young people is needed.
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