In an effort to promote Hong Kong as a global wine hub, the government eliminated duties on wine and beer in 2008. The changes in alcohol consumption patterns are examined.
The researchers carried out anonymous, telephone surveys on a random sample of Chinese male and female residents aged 18-70 in 2011 (n = 4800) and 2012 (n = 1001). These data were compared with those of a 2006 (n = 9896) baseline survey conducted before the excise tax elimination.
Prevalence of those ever drinking alcohol significantly increased from the 2006 baseline level of 66.6% to 82.0% in 2011 and to 85.2% in 2012. 10.2% of ever drinkers within the 2012 sample reported consuming alcohol for the first time in or after 2008. Younger, more educated or more affluent parts of the population are more likely to be ever drinkers. Unexpectedly, prevalence of binge drinking in the population decreased from the 2006 baseline of 9.0% to 7.1% in 2011 and to 7.3% in 2012.
The study concludes that the quantity of alcohol reportedly consumed by individuals did not change, while alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence levels decreased. However, those with lower educational achievement and the unemployed had a higher likelihood of binge drinking.
Source: The impact of cutting alcohol duties on drinking patterns in Hong Kong. Chung VC, Yip BH, Griffiths SM, Yu EL, Kim JH, Tam WW, Wong AH, Chan IW, Lau JT. Alcohol and Alcoholism. advanced access online.