Alcohol economics and prevention



TYPE Prevention Centre News

The 44th annual AHES conference showcased the role of health economics analysis in informing policy and health practice in Australia and internationally.

Researchers from a Prevention Centre project were involved in a session on ‘Alcohol harms in Australia: modelling the avoidable burden and cost-effectiveness of policy interventions’. While results from our project are still to be finalised, conference attendees were given an insight to the epidemiological and economic modelling being used by the research team.

A new simulation model was developed at the request of governments and NGOs to assess the potential impact of alcohol-harm reduction policies on avoidable alcohol-related disease and injury, and healthcare cost savings.

Understanding the most effective and cost-effective interventions to address alcohol-related harms will help governments introduce policies to improve the health of Australians.

Dr Jaithri Ananthapavan

Dr Jaithri Ananthapavan from Deakin University presented on the economic evaluation of a uniform volumetric tax on alcohol in Australia as the current taxation system does not adequately reflect the risks of consumption of different products and is not well suited to reduce alcohol-related social harm. A volumetric taxation is one levied on the alcohol content per volume of the product, rather than on other considerations such as the cost of manufacturing the product. The modelling estimated the long-term health impacts and associated healthcare cost savings resulting from a change in alcohol consumption compared to costs to government and alcohol industry.

Dr Mary Wanjau from Griffith University presented on avoidable health and economic burden related to alcohol consumption. Demographic and epidemiological data from the 2019 Australian population was used to estimate gains in health-adjusted life years (HALYs) as well as changes in incidence, prevalence and mortality from alcohol-related diseases and injuries over a lifetime in order to calculate the expected healthcare cost savings. The modelling predicts the long-term health and economic impact of strategies and scenarios, helping policy makers to quantify the economic case for greater policy action to reduce alcohol consumption.

Mary Rose Angeles from Deakin University presented another intervention from this project where she modelled the health and economic impact of a proposed policy to cap the number of liquor licences in NSW and Victoria.

We look forward to sharing the results from this research later this year. An update on the project will be presented at our upcoming webinar ‘Strategic prevention: Insights from our policy-focused research projects’. Register here

The importance of health economics in chronic disease prevention has been highlighted in a new Prevention Centre factsheet.