Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Policy Adoption

Economic Policies

These focus on increasing the cost of items so that fewer people can afford to buy them. Pricing policies are the most common, and most successful, economic policies. Research shows, for example, that when you raise the price of tobacco or alcohol, you see a drop in both the number of people using these products and the amount consumed.2 Another way to increase cost is by attaching a special tax to the item, sometimes called a "sin" tax. The revenue from these taxes often goes to support prevention and treatment services. Finally, communities can establish laws that prohibit the sale of individual units of alcohol and tobacco products, such as single beers or individual cigarettes. This makes it harder for people on limited incomes—like kids—to afford these products.

An example of economic policies to address underage drinking includes alcohol taxation


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