Do alcohol control policies have the predicted effects on consumption? An analysis of the Baltic countries and Poland 2000-2020

Jürgen Rehm (Coresponding Author), Alexander Tran, Inese Gobiņa, Kinga Janik-Koncewicz, Huan Jiang, Kawon Victoria Kim, Vaida Liutkutė-Gumarov, Laura Miščikienė, Rainer Reile, Robin Room, Mindaugas Štelemėkas, Relika Stoppel, Witold A Zatoński, Shannon Lange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Many population-based alcohol control policies are postulated to work via changes in adult alcohol per capita consumption (APC). However, since APC is usually assessed on a yearly basis, often there are not enough data to conduct interrupted time-series or other controlled analyses. The current dataset, with 21 years of observation from four countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland), had sufficient power to test for average effects and potential interactions of the World Health Organization's (WHO) three "best buys" for alcohol control: taxation increases leading to a decrease in affordability; reduced availability (via a decrease in opening hours of at least 20 %); and advertising and marketing restrictions. We postulated that the former two would have immediate effects, while the latter would have mid- to long-term effects.

METHODS: Linear regression analysis.

RESULTS: Taxation increases and availability reductions in all countries were associated with an average reduction in APC of 0.83 litres (ℓ) of pure alcohol per year (95 % confidence interval: -1.21 ℓ, -0.41 ℓ) in the same year, with no significant differences between countries. Restrictions on advertising and/or marketing had no significant immediate associations with APC (average effect 0.04 ℓ per year; 95 % confidence interval: -0.65 ℓ, 0.73 ℓ). Several sensitivity analyses corroborated these main results.

CONCLUSIONS: The WHO "best buy" alcohol control policies of taxation increases and availability restrictions worked as postulated in these four northeastern European Union countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109682
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Alcohol control policy
  • Best buys
  • Taxation
  • Affordability
  • Availability
  • Marketing ban
  • Alcohol per capita consumption

Field of Science*

  • 5.2 Economy and Business
  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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