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The Impact of Alcohol Taxation on Liver Cirrhosis Mortality
William R. Ponicki, Paul J. Gruenewald
Objective: The objective of this study is to investigate the impact of distilled spirits, wine, and beer taxes on cirrhosis mortality using a large-panel data set and statistical models that control for various other factors that may affect that mortality. Method: The analyses were performed on a panel of 30 U.S. license states during the period 1971-1998 (N = 840 state-by-year observations). Exogenous measures included current and lagged versions of beverage taxes and income, as well as controls for states’ age distribution, religion, race, health care availability, urbanity, tourism, and local bans on alcohol sales. Regression analyses were performed using random-effects models with corrections for serial autocorrelation and heteroscedasticity among states. Results: Cirrhosis rates were found to be significantly related to taxes on distilled spirits but not to taxation of wine and beer. Consistent results were found using different statistical models and model specifications. Conclusions: Consistent with prior research, cirrhosis mortality in the United States appears more closely linked to consumption of distilled spirits than to that of other alcoholic beverages. (J. Stud. Alcohol 67: 934-938, 2006)