Policy Factsheet

Alcoholic Beverages Excise Taxes

Reasons for Policy

  • Heavy alcohol consumption contributes to approximately 79,000 deaths per year in the United States.1
  • Alcohol is the 3rd leading cause of preventable death in the United States.1
  • Alcohol consumption is a risk factor for injuries, diseases, and social problems.2

Community Groups

  • Local Alcohol Distributors
  • Local Alcohol Retailers
  • Local Government

Policy Components

  • Increase in excise taxes on alcoholic drinks (e.g. beer, wine, and spirits)

Desired Outcomes

  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Reduce alcohol-related morbidity and mortality
  • Reduce alcohol-related unintentional injuries

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 1: Evidence-Based Policies Meeting Criteria for Effectiveness.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

Doubling the tax on alcoholic beverages would be associated with a(n):

  • 35% reduction in alcohol-related morbidity and mortality2
  • 11% reduction in traffic crash deaths2
  • 6% reduction in sexually transmitted disease2
  • 2% reduction in violence2
  • 1% reduction in crime2
  • 6% reduction in general alcohol consumption4
  • 17% reduction in beer consumption4
  • 25% reduction in wine consumption4
  • 25% reduction in distilled spirits consumption4
  • 1% reduction in consumption among heavy drinkers4

Community Examples

Links to Policy Examples

Be sure to check with your state, county, and municipal governments regarding potential existing laws that may impede any new policy development.


  1. Campbell CA, et al. (2009). The effectiveness of limiting alcohol outlet density as a means of reducing excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 37(6). 556-569.  

  2. Wagenaar AC, Tobler AL, Komro KA (in press). Effects of alcohol tax and price policies on morbidity and mortality: A systematic review. American Journal of Public Health.  

  3. Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.

  4. Wagenaar AC, Salois MJ, Komro KA (2009). Effects of beverage alcohol price and tax levels on drinking: A meta-analysis of 1,003 estimates from 112 studies. Addiction, 104, 179-190.