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Int J Epidemiol. 2011 Apr;40(2):441-54. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyp336. Epub 2009 Dec 7.

An evaluation of the impact of a large reduction in alcohol prices on alcohol-related and all-cause mortality: time series analysis of a population-based natural experiment.

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Population Research Unit, Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.



We examined the effect of a large reduction in the price of alcohol that occurred in Finland in 2004 on alcohol-related and all-cause mortality, and mortality due to cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) from which alcohol-attributable cases were excluded.


Time series intervention analysis modelling was applied to the monthly aggregations of deaths in Finland for the period 1996-2006 to assess the impact of the reduction in alcohol prices. Alcohol-related mortality was defined using information on both underlying and contributory causes of death. Analyses were carried out for men and women aged 15-39, 40-49, 50-69 and >69 years.


Alcohol-related deaths increased in men aged 40-49 years, and in men and women aged 50-69 years, after the price reduction when trends and seasonal variation were taken into account: the mean rate of alcohol-related mortality increased by 17% [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.5, 33.7], 14% (95% CI 1.1, 28.0) and 40% (95% CI) 7.1, 81.7), respectively, which implies 2.5, 2.9 and 1.6 additional monthly deaths per 100,000 person-years following the price reduction. In contrast to alcohol-related mortality, CVD and all-cause mortality decreased: among men and women aged >69 years a decrease of 7 and 10%, respectively, in CVD mortality implied 19 and 25 fewer monthly deaths per 100,000 person-years, and a decrease of 7 and 14%, respectively, in all-cause mortality similarly implied 42 and 69 fewer monthly deaths.


These results obtained from the time series analyses suggest that the reduction in alcohol prices led to an increase in alcohol-related mortality, except in persons <40 years of age. However, it appears that beneficial effects in older age, when CVD deaths are prevalent, counter-balance these adverse effects, at least to some extent.

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