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Open Access Research

Cost-effectiveness of changes in alcohol taxation in Denmark: a modelling study

Astrid Ledgaard Holm1*, Lennert Veerman2, Linda Cobiac2, Ola Ekholm3 and Finn Diderichsen1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

2 School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

3 National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark

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Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation 2014, 12:1  doi:10.1186/1478-7547-12-1

Published: 9 January 2014

Abstract

Introduction

Excessive alcohol consumption is a public health problem in many countries including Denmark, where 6% of the burden of disease is due to alcohol consumption, according to the new estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. Pricing policies, including tax increases, have been shown to effectively decrease the level of alcohol consumption.

Methods

We analysed the cost-effectiveness of three different scenarios of changed taxation of alcoholic beverages in Denmark (20% and 100% increase and 10% decrease). The lifetime health effects are estimated as the difference in disability-adjusted life years between a Danish population that continues to drink alcohol at current rates and an identical population that changes their alcohol consumption due to changes in taxation. Calculation of cost offsets related to treatment of alcohol-related diseases and injuries, was based on health care system costs from Danish national registers. Cost-effectiveness was evaluated by calculating cost-effectiveness ratios (CERs) compared to current practice.

Results

The two scenarios of 20% and 100% increased taxation could avert 20,000 DALY and 95,500 DALY respectively, and yield cost savings of -€119 million and -€575 million, over the life time of the Danish population. Both scenarios are thus cost saving. The tax decrease scenario would lead to 10,100 added DALY and an added cost of €60 million. For all three interventions the health effects build up and reach their maximum around 15–20 years after implementation of the tax change.

Conclusion

Our results show that decreased taxation will lead to an increased burden of disease and related increases in health care costs, whereas both a doubling of the current level of alcohol taxation and a scenario where taxation is only increased by 20% can be cost-saving ways to reduce alcohol related morbidity and mortality. Our results support the growing evidence that population strategies are cost-effective and should be considered for policy making and prevention of alcohol abuse.

Keywords:
Cost-effectiveness; Taxation; Alcohol; Public health; Health effects; Health care costs; Simulation modelling