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Alcohol Alcohol. 1998 Jul-Aug;33(4):417-20.

Prevention of alcohol abuse-related birth effects--II. Targeting and pricing.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA.


Current public health measures to reduce the occurrence of fetal alcohol abuse syndrome (FAAS) and alcohol abuse-related birth effects (AARBEs) have been ineffective, because they target alcohol consumption, rather than alcohol abuse. The present discussion contends that the most effective public health strategy for reducing FAAS and AARBEs is a combination of more specific public health messages that target alcohol abuse, coupled with higher taxes on alcohol beverages. Although alcohol consumption by alcohol abusers has been thought to be inelastic to price changes, recent studies have found that both heavy drinking and binge drinking are sensitive to alcohol price changes, and price elasticities are relatively high for heavy drinkers who are aware of the consequences of their drinking. Although price increases may have a disproportionate impact on lower socioeconomic groups, this article concludes that they are justifiable from both a utilitarian and a categorical imperative perspective.

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