Alcohol Tax Policy and Related Mortality. An Age-Period-Cohort Analysis of a Rapidly Developed Chinese Population, 1981–2010

To delineate the temporal dynamics between alcohol tax policy changes and related health outcomes, this study examined the age, period and cohort effects on alcohol-related mortality in relation to changes in government alcohol policies. We used the age-period-cohort modeling to analyze retrospective mortality data over 30 years from 1981 to 2010 in a rapidly developed Chinese population, Hong Kong. Alcohol-related mortality from 1) chronic causes, 2) acute causes, 3) all (chronic+acute) causes and 4) causes 100% attributable to alcohol, as defined according to the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) criteria developed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were examined. The findings illustrated the possible effects of alcohol policy changes on adult alcohol-related mortality. The age-standardized mortality trends were generally in decline, with fluctuations that coincided with the timing of the alcohol policy changes. The age-period-cohort analyses demonstrated possible temporal dynamics between alcohol policy changes and alcohol-related mortality through the period effects, and also generational impact of alcohol policy changes through the cohort effects. Based on the illustrated association between the dramatic increase of alcohol imports in the mid-1980s and the increased alcohol-related mortality risk of the generations coming of age of majority at that time, attention should be paid to generations coming of drinking age during the 2007–2008 duty reduction.