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Estimated impacts of alternative Australian alcohol taxation structures on consumption, public health and government revenues

Evidence suggests that alcohol taxation, as a means of increasing the price of alcohol, is one of the most effective policy interventions to reduce the level of alcohol consumption and related problems, including mortality rates, crime and traffic accidents.1,2 Even small increases in the price of alcohol can have a significant impact on consumption and harm. Despite its reported effectiveness, taxation as a strategy to reduce alcohol-related harm has been underutilised in Australia.3

Aside from some positive features, such as lower tax on light and mid-strength beer and the higher tax on ready-to-drink products (RTDs), the alcohol taxation regimen in Australia is flawed from both an economic and public health perspective.4 The National Preventative Health Taskforce reported that while there are some positive aspects to the current regimen, such as the relatively lower rate of tax on low-alcohol beer, there are large inconsistencies in the way different alcohol products are taxed — they are not consistently taxed according to their alcohol content level or their propensity to cause harm.5